New York City's 'Don't Honk' Signs Coming Down in a Lost Cause

Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013 11:18 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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New York City plans to remove the "Don't Honk" signs from its streets, where blaring your horn has been illegal for years, in an effort to de-clutter thoroughfares.

The signs, which have been up since the '80s, have done little to curb cabbies and commuters from honking their car horns, city officials told the New York Times.

A gratuitous honk carries a $350 fine, according to the Times, but few offenders are actually fined. Last year, the Police Department issued just 206 summonses for "unnecessary use of horn."

The sign removal is a point of contention in noise-conscious and high-traffic residential areas like the Upper East and West Sides, so not everyone is in favor of the move.

"I can’t tell you how many requests I get for 'no honking' signs," Gale A. Brewer, a Manhattan councilwoman, told the Times.

Brewer wrote a letter to the city’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, arguing against the change.

"The notion of taking down information when information is so hard to get in New York City is pretty bad."

Others dispute whether the signs made a difference in the first place. Since 2008, complaints to police about honking have declined 63 percent citywide, to 1,796 in 2012 — suggesting that either honking has decreased or tolerance has risen, according to the Department of Transportation.

Former Mayor Edward Koch, whose administration introduced the "Don't Honk" signs more than 20 years ago, told the Times he believed "there's far less honking today than there was" then, and that the signs played "a role in making that happen."

But Seth Solomonow, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, told the Times that "we're not aware of any evidence that the signs have had any impact at locations where they've been installed."

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