Get New York to stop honking?
October 5, 2008 12:51 AM   Subscribe

How do I get people in my neighborhood to stop honking?

This may be more of a philosophical question than one with an actual solvable answer, but I'm interested in the results anyway. I live near the entrance of the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel. Every morning, and less annoyingly, around five o'clock, there is unbearable honking. Let's just assume for a minute that it is not impossible to do something about it. There are already official signs on the street that indicate a seemingly unenforced fine for honking. What would a person who lived in a working system do? Call 311? Write the King of Brooklyn? Just compromise having working windows and soundproof the wall? What is a long term strategy? Should I rally the neighbors? Form/find a community organization?
posted by idledebonair to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are already official signs on the street that indicate a seemingly unenforced fine for honking.

If there are official signs on the street than indicate a fine for honking, then you need to be proactive in writing down the license plate numbers of the vehicles you observe to be honking, and call them in to the police dispatch (use the non-emergency number), or send them in by mail. Keep at it until the powers-that-be can't ignore you.
posted by amyms at 1:02 AM on October 5, 2008

that* indicate
posted by amyms at 1:03 AM on October 5, 2008

It would be so much easier to come to terms with the honking than to try and stop it. Just let it go.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:08 AM on October 5, 2008

It would be so much easier to come to terms with the honking than to try and stop it. Just let it go.

That sounds good in theory, but if it's incessant and unbearable (the OP's word) then the OP would probably feel better if he/she at least attempted to do something about stopping it.
posted by amyms at 1:14 AM on October 5, 2008

Could you do something noisy to you at that time, like take a shower or vacuum? You'd possibly drown out the noise for a bit.
posted by mdonley at 1:25 AM on October 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Noise pollution drives me nuts, too, so you have my sympathies.

Try contacting the local chapter of Noise Free America. NoiseOFF also has information, strategy guides, etc., but I don't know if they have chapters as well.

As for getting some immediate relief, window plugs + white noise machine (or fan) have helped muffle the morning traffic din outside our bedroom. (Our street is relatively quiet most of the day, but is a rush hour magnet.) We cut very high density, noise-reducing foam backed with plywood to fit tightly into the windows -- it looks like we decorated in Early American Crackhouse when the blinds are up, but it's a small price to pay for being able to sleep past 6:00 in the morning.
posted by scody at 1:33 AM on October 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Could you do something noisy to you at that time, like take a shower or vacuum? You'd possibly drown out the noise for a bit.

At 5AM? Perhaps if OP was an early, early morning person.

Call 311, or a local info hotline they might be able to direct you to a more appropriate person. I agree with amyms in being persistent. If an intersection gets known for ticketing and fines, hopefully in the future you'll see(or hear) an improvement.

On the flip side, I have known old thin windows to make sound all the more unbearable. My old apartment was located on a busy main street and it was impossible to get good shut eye unless something solid was placed against the window.

You also might want to consider ear plugs that block out the sound just enough so you can hear your alarm, but not the noise outside.
posted by nikkorizz at 1:38 AM on October 5, 2008

perhaps you could draw more attention to the problem and connect with like-minded neighbors by writing letters to the editors of local newspapers?
posted by halogen at 1:55 AM on October 5, 2008

Start shooting!

(photos or videos of the offenders, of course)
posted by knowles at 2:32 AM on October 5, 2008

Best answer: Specifically in NYC, you organize your entire building or block to call 311 several times a day. After a statistically significant number of calls, a light goes off at city-hall and our warrior-poet-king Bloomberg takes action.

That's actually how you get the signs enforced, at least, that's how they did it on the UES.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:10 AM on October 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

These Premises are right ... one squeaky wheel is to be ignored, but many are to be paid attention. 311 is a start but also your City Council member is very important; they are full-time politicians and (with 51 districts) they represent a modest-enough group of people that a few dozen calls on an issue really makes an impact.

For better or worse, the priority of quality of life enforcement in New York City is intensely political. As a rule, NYPD cops are suburbanites who by their own standards regard the dense parts of New York City as one big quality of life violation, and thus need some external cues to select who is actually supposed to be ticketed or arrested for it...
posted by MattD at 5:55 AM on October 5, 2008

Honking goes with the territory of NYC. You can't beat them. Get a good grade earplug. You have my sympathies.
posted by watercarrier at 6:34 AM on October 5, 2008

If you're in a shared building, put signs up in the hallway asking other residents if they're pissed off too. Relay a date and time to meet in the lobby to discuss combined-effort actions.
posted by nitsuj at 6:49 AM on October 5, 2008

You might enjoy the story of honku
posted by moonmilk at 7:40 AM on October 5, 2008

Most of my ideas have been mentioned.

The only one I would add is public shaming. You could collect photos or videos of idiots honking for no good reason. Put them up on the internets. Call them out on being ass holes. Point out that honking is not going to make traffic go faster, and they're being ridiculous, and waking you up. Also point out that when you honk, it's supposed to mean someone is in danger and to look out. If you honk and there is no danger, it can create danger, by diverting drivers' attention from where it should be.

But this is just an idea. I don't know how effective it would be. More likely, it would just make you look like the ass hole.

Contacting the government by some means may turn out to be pretty effective. Cities like to collect revenue by enforcing easily overlooked ordinances. As much as it annoys us when we're on the wrong end of the law, there are often (not always) good reasons for these seemingly frivolous money traps, as your predicament demonstrates. This could be a gold mine to the city, at least until people get the idea.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 8:19 AM on October 5, 2008

Shaming won't work. People are honking at 5am largely because they're irritated and mean-feeling about having to be up and functioning so early/late. The last thing they'll feel bad about is disturbing happy bed-dwellers who get to snooze til a more civilised time. Telling them off would probably result in a daily cacophony of honks specifically intended to wake (and wind) you up. The only action is the tedious one of taking down plates and phoning the culprits in. They may act to prevent their own discomfort (fine avoidance) but not yours.
posted by freya_lamb at 9:36 AM on October 5, 2008

If this kind of thing were ever to be taken seriously by our society as a whole, horns would be put under the control of cars' computers, and could be suppressed by some kind of radio signal available only to the government in areas like yours.
posted by jamjam at 9:41 AM on October 5, 2008

The OP doesn't say people are honking at 5am... he/she says
"Every morning, and less annoyingly, around five o'clock" so it looks like there is a lot of honking in the morning (could be anytime... likely the morning rush hour), AND at 5 o'clock, perhaps in the evening, which is why it is less annoying.
posted by newfers at 11:53 AM on October 5, 2008

Response by poster: Newfers has it right, I meant 5pm. I work as a computer artist and so many (many) days are spent at home working on the computer and not on-site so this is incredibly frustrating. To be more specific, the honking doesn't wake me up, because I don't sleep in the room closest to the street, but sometimes when we have company stay over, it is impossible for anyone to sleep in that room from 7am - 12pm. Around noon the honking usually dies out and starts again around 2 or 3 and peaks around 5pm and then dies out again around 7pm. On very very bad days, like when it is raining, the honking might not stop from 7am-7pm. It's almost kind of funny because of just how pointless it all is. I know I'm fighting a tidal wave, and results might not actually be achieved. But if I at least take action towards it, it will be something to work towards and even though I might not accomplish anything, I might start to feel better and actually I will have dealt with it mentally without actually dealing with it physically.
posted by idledebonair at 12:17 PM on October 5, 2008

311 seems to work. As ThreePremises said, it might take calls from several people, but it's definitely worth trying.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 2:04 PM on October 5, 2008

« Older IS there a way to password protect one app from...   |   Help me buy awesome Japanese stuff from Japan. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.