By Reya Mehrotra No-honking crusader is spreading the word through stickers If you were a Martian who had just landed in Bengaluru, you would be led to believe that honking is what makes a vehicle move and not its engine. That’s how bad the noise levels are in Bengaluru. With roads all choked up with traffic, some drivers don’t take their hands off the horn. Bangalore Mirror had launched a campaign in July 2016 to make people aware about No Honking, and Bharathi Athinarayanan, was one of the few people from Bengaluru who was inspired to follow it to the T. The techie, whose wife had brought the campaign to his notice, travelled all the way to his native village near Coimbatore in 2016 and didn’t honk even once. From there he went to Kerala to watch the boat race and didn’t use the horn even once. Now Bharathi Athinarayanan has moved on from self-discipline to discouraging people from honking. Weaving in between vehicles on crowded roads, Athinarayanan sticks labels on cars and two wheelers to discourage them from honking. He has many stickers in his arsenal. ‘No Honking, No Dinging, No Poinging, No Buzzing, No Ringing, No Hooting, No Binging and NO Boinging’ says one while another has a No Honking sign. While one says, ‘Horn Not Okay Please’, another says ‘Quiet Please’ while yet another says ‘No Honking Unless for Danger’. Authorities have been trying to deal with the sound pollution caused by unnecessary honking with many campaigns. The police had launched No Honking Mondays to encourage people to begin the week with less noise but the campaign fell on deaf years. Even the badges that the cops wore, Don’t Be Horny’ did not elicit a response. During traffic jams, especially during peak hours, I use the time to think. Most of my interesting work ideas come during traffic jams – Bharathi Athinarayanan, techie The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board says sound levels should not exceed 84 decibels (db) but the Regional Transport Office found that sound horns were as loud as 135 db. Hearing damage can happen at 90 db and complete hearing loss at 120 db. In 2015, the RTO had carried out a 40-day campaign to bring awareness about no honking and seized 12,000 vehicles whose sound horns exceeded permissible limits. Implementing the no honking initiative becomes difficult, say authorities, in the absence of meters to measure the decibel levels on the roads. Athinarayanan, a principal engineer at American Telephone and Telegraph Company, has been following the No Honking rule since two years and now wants to spread the message to others. His sticker distribution drive which he started earlier this year, was meant to make people follow No Honking as a courtesy. Says Athinarayanan, “I got 40 stickers printed and distributed them to my friends and commuters. Since I stay in HSR Layout, I also distributed the ‘No Honking’ stickers to commuters at traffic signals. They were curious to know what this was about and thought I was from the traffic police department. I explained to them about the need to stop honking. They were happy to flaunt the stickers on their vehicles and promised me that they would follow the same. I am happy that I am able to make some difference to society.” Athinarayanan’s sticker initiative is self-funded and he has designed and created five different kinds of stickers. . The first lot is over and he plans to reprint another batch. Inspired by Athinarayanan, his friend, Srihari Narsimhan, too gave up honking two years ago. Now he too flaunts a ‘No Honking’ sticker that was gifted to him by his friend and spreads the message across the city. 15000 kms without honking Athinarayanan owns four vehicles and claims that he has already travelled 10,500 km on his Bullet motorcycle and 15,000 km in his jeep, without honking. All his vehicles have ‘no honking’ stickers on them. In 2017, Bangalore Mirror had reported about him completing 3000 kilometres without honking, after being inspired by BM’s campaign. . Talking to BM about his journey, he says, “Initially I started by setting small records for myself of 250, 500, 1000 and then 3000 and 6000 kilometres, without honking. ” He also conducts workshops for children in schools and educates them about how honking adds stress to our already-hassled lives. He has now travelled 10,500 km on his bullet without honking within the city and 15,000 km in his jeep to Rameswaram and Kolar, without honking. His wife has been following the No Honking rule too. Think during traffic jams When asked how he manages to stay calm without honking when there are bad drivers all around, he says, “I understand everybody is in a hurry to reach somewhere and a driver has to respect that. I remain calm. It’s just a matter of one-two minutes and the way clears. I put on my headphones and music lifts my mood instantly. During traffic jams, especially during peak hours, I use the time to think about interesting and creative ideas rather than honking or getting impatient. Most of my interesting work ideas come during traffic jams.” He says the most challenging stretches in the city where it almost impossible not to honk are Iblur Junction, Marathahalli Junction, the flyover near RMZ Eco Space at ORR and at Harlur Junction. Recently, Athinarayanan had to honk once when a school bus driver was driving recklessly and did not notice his car coming from the opposite direction. Says Athinarayanan, “Since it was a school bus, I honked. It was a question of safety of many school children.”