New York is drenched in unnecessary honking, but in Washington Heights the problem is simply unbearable. Since the neighborhood is served by very few yellow cabs, hundreds of gypsy cabs ply the streets and honk whenever they see someone standing on the sidewalk to get their attention. This is a poor business practice and a non-stop, round-the-clock source of noise that seems to penetrate into every apartment in the neighborhood.
Aside from gypsy cabs, many motorists in the neighborhood are in the habit of pulling up outside someone's apartment and using their car horn as a doorbell. This is gratuitous and very unfair. There is no need to announce your arrival to every single person on the street and bludgeon their ears with your car horn. Traffic citations should be issued for this practice.
The third vector of the honking plague is simply motorist anger, aggression, and impatience. Hesitating for more than a nanosecond at a green light, attempting to change lanes, double parking for 2 seconds to drop someone off, etc., etc., are all occasion for you, and everyone within earshot, to endure a vicious aural assault. This of course happens throughout the city, but in a honking hotspot like Washington Heights, it really adds insult to injury.
Excessive noise is more than a nuisance, particularly when it drifts in through windows and walls into your home. It has been associated with increased blood pressure, difficulty focusing on and completing tasks, and a sense of hopelessness. To say nothing of its effect on sleep. According to the NY Times, the city has anti honking ordinance, but it is not enforced:
In tonier neighborhoods, there are signs warning of fines for unlawful honking. I'm not implying that these signs are actually observed, but at least they have some sort of calming effect in nice neighborhoods. But in poor areas like Washington Heights, already under stress from a host of other social problems, unmitigated honking has reached an absolutely intolerable level.
Cynics will scoff at any serious effort to curb honking in NY City. Others will even embrace honking as an indelible part of NY's distinctive urban fabric. I disagree. I think honking can and should be muzzled. I consider it a public health issue, not merely a quality of life issue. If you agree that a campaign should be waged against honking, vote for this issue on SCF.
Speaking more generally, if NY City wants to take itself seriously as a pedestrian and transit-oriented town, instead of continuing to kowtow to the automobile, then motorists need to know that if they're driving through the city they need to treat it with respect (this also applies to the reckless speeding and maneuvering that is pandemic in NYC).