Q&A - Air Horns on Bicycles

Q&A ImageA friend tells me I might be breaking the law by having an air horn on my bike.

He told me how he had been stopped and nearly gotten a ticket in 2000 in Vancouver for having a similar but not identical air horn (his came with a precharged gas canister - mine you pump by hand) He says the cop cited a regulation/law.

Ever heard anything about this?

I love my air horn - I use it infrequently but like a car horn, when you need it, you need it!

The Motor Vehicle Act grants privileges and imposes duties on cyclists in section 183. Among them is granting equality with motor vehicle drivers:

Rights and duties of operator of cycle

183 (1) In addition to the duties imposed by this section, a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle.

Among the duties of a driver is to insure that their vehicle is properly equipped for use on the roadway:

Equipment of motor vehicles

219 (1) A person must not drive or operate a motor vehicle or trailer on a highway or rent a motor vehicle or trailer unless it is equipped in all respects in compliance with this Act and the regulations.

Through the operation of section 183 the same duty for applicable equipment would also fall on a cyclist.

Horns are dealt with in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations:


7.02 (1) Subject to subsection (2), every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a horn which will emit sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of 60 m, but no horn shall emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle.

Admittedly, the use of the word unreasonably in the prohibition makes the rule somewhat subjective. However, if you choose to equip your bicycle with a horn, I could see the court applying the rule to you in this manner.

How loud is too loud? Well, that would be up to the court to decide too.

I can't find anything in our Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations that imposes a decibel limit on horns, but Wikipedia does state that "Sound levels of typical car horns are approximately 107–109 decibels," This would probably be a reasonable guide that the court could choose to take notice of.

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

As a motorcyclist, I recognise that one of the greatest dangers to our wellbeing is the distracted car driver. I would venture to say that this applies to cyclists as well.

About 3 years ago, I met a fellow riding a GoldWing, which is a large touring type Honda motorcycle.  He had a freon boat horn in the cupholder.  He said that if he rode up beside a car driver who was ungrossed in texting rather than paying attention to his/her driving, he would put the horn in the side window and pull the trigger.

I'll admit that I don't know how he survived the probable resulting road rage, but I do have sympathy for his motivations.