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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cyclists Need Air Horns, Not Bells, to Clear Crowds on Golden Gate Bridge

Posted By on Wed, Jul 6, 2011 at 7:25 AM

click to enlarge Move over, Large Marge
  • Move over, Large Marge

Cyclists commuting between San Francisco and Marin County face another three months of frustration as crews complete seismic work that has closed the bike path on the west edge of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Rather than speed to their destinations, cyclists must now inch through pedestrian tourists who are crowding the footpath on the bridge's eastern side. Don't worry, there's an app or that.

Well, not really, but there should be. Rather, we've been relying on something bigger and better than the small jingle-jangle of bike bells to navigate the crowds.

We got ourselves high-decibel horns and buzzers small enough to be mounted to a bicycle.

How else can cyclists navigate this critical mass of crowding?

Like other bike shops, The Freewheel Bike Shop on Hayes Street carries an assortment of bells that make a civilized, jangly sound you might imagine Mary Poppins issuing. That's great, but let's face it: Golden Gate Bridge tourists, bless their oblivious, obstinate souls, don't always respond to the polite ringing of bells.

Which is why I've installed on my bike a Mega-Horn -- a 105-decibel electric buzzer producing the same warning sound that in Hollywood movies usually signals a power-plant disaster.

It's available from Niagara Cycle Works for $20.99, takes a 9-volt battery, and is about as loud as a lawnmower. Unfortunately, that's only enough noise to cause tourists to look up momentarily, notice that the source is just a cyclist, and go back to wandering in the middle of the path.

So I'm thinking of upgrading to a horn that produces rock-concert-level noise. Park Presidio Marine on 24th Street carries a Coast Guard-certified Falcon signal horn up to 120 decibels that's only $9.99. If you plan on riding with friends, buy several. On the Golden Gate Bridge nowadays, twice the noise might mean getting to Marin County twice as fast.

If sustainability is your bag, and you're willing to settle for slightly less than 120 decibels, Freewheel can order you a Delta AirZound Rechargable Air Power Horn. It produces 115 decibels, installed in a mounted container on your bike. That's about as loud as an electronic riveter heard from three feet away.

When cyclists are finally allowed back onto the bike path in October, you can still find great use for this baby -- and that is to blast away at rentabike tourists.

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Matt Smith


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