Riding downhill on the 9th Street bicycle lane in Brooklyn today around 12:30, I was traveling about the same speed as the B61, about a block ahead of it. I noticed that the bus driver was honking, over and over, once or twice a block all the way down the hill. Eventually I understood that the driver was blowing the horn each time he or she passed, and passed again, the same cyclists in the same bicycle lane. Finally, the bus driver passed and honked at me. Oh look, a bus! It was bus 5686.
While I’m sure your driver’s intentions are good, it is not helpful or safety-enhancing to “warn” cyclists with a horn honk when passing safely—quite the opposite. A seasoned cyclist will shrug off the piercing noise and do nothing, and that is the best case scenario. An inexperienced cyclist may be startled and look left—inadvertently moving into the vehicle’s path. Or they may retreat to the right—directly into an opening car door, which throws them left into the path of the bus. That’s what happened in Queens to Tskaka Cooke in June of this year, as I’m sure you’ll recall.
Please ask your drivers not to honk at cyclists and anyone else just going about their business on the street. Blasting the horn in routine situations makes them tense and dangerous, renders the horn useless as a signal of unusual danger, and surely isn’t appreciated by anyone who lives along your bus routes.