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Jun 07 2016

How I stopped Honking and increased the fuel efficiency

Have you heard of the now super-famous butterfly effect? If you haven’t read about it. Interestingly I kinda experienced something similar (or so I think!) in my life. Not as dramatic as the metaphorical example given to explain the butterfly effect but significant enough for me to blog about it. Also nothing I encountered is new or never heard of but it is more like a…. hmmm…. like a lost art. People have forgotten. The generation has moved on to a different stage, a different pace. The butterfly effect in my life has been:

I stopped honking & all of the sudden my fuel efficiency went up!

Whoever said reality is stranger than fiction is spot on, yeah! 🙂

Horn Noise

Horn Noise

Stop Honking!

For a strange reason, I woke up one day and decided I need some silence/peace while on road. I have tried listening to music or podcasts (which I still do) but the peace was still elusive! I need to relax while on road. I have enough tension & heart-ache at office & I don’t need the same to be on road as well. Also if I relax while on my way back home my interactions with my family will be nice/smooth/calm from the minute I enter home. And, I want peace & serenity while I am with my family. If my ride back home is messy then it takes at least hour or so to unwind & calm down. Anyways, I can go on for another 1000 words on why honking is less peaceful & more troublesome. So I decided I will not honk! The idea was to give others the peace which I needed so that hopefully they would reciprocate!

Stopped honking? Keep a distance!

Biggest change that came about when I stopped honking is the distance I started maintaining between me (i.e., my vehicle) and the one before. Well, this is the biggest, out-in-the-open & ONLY change I explicitly brought in to avoid honking. If you are wondering why I did this then you haven’t driven/ridden in India (esp. Bangalore) in a decade! Anyways for the “the-heck-you-talking-about” people, my one-sentence explanation is: “need time to react” Allow me to explain in detail.

Since I decided NOT to honk, now I am one of the most vulnerable candidate on the road! For the enthusiasts of visual imagination, this decision was more like “Why the chicken crossed the road” kinda vulnerable. The way we drive/ride on road is based on audio cues and less of visual cues. In other words, we drive/ride as if we own the road until we hear a honk and then we rectify. So, if I don’t honk nobody knows I am on the road. The other way of looking at this is, if I don’t honk people ahead of me (including the one who over-took me just an instance ago) will lane-change, stop or take-a-turn without bothering about me, who is right behind (or worse, next to) them. Now if I have to survive the chaotic traffic then I have only 2 choices:

  1. keep my honk-finger ready always (or)
  2. be aware who is doing what & when!

Both of these options are very stressful. The alternate way of approaching this is to keep a distance so that I have time to react. If you think that is the most stupidiest idea one has ever proposed then you are one of the drivers/riders I am afraid of! :p Jokes apart, I agree. It did sound stupid to myself when I first discovered this. But, yeah, read on and lemme explain my ‘butterfly-effect’ 🙂

keep-distance

keep-distance

Keeping a distance? Cleverly accelerate, please!

The trouble of keeping a distance between vehicles in India is others don’t understand. The vehicles behind you (or to your side) assume you are useless and don’t deserve license. The opinions don’t matter but the opinions lead to reactions and reactions matter because on roads reactions are mighty dangerous! The reaction here from other drivers/riders will be to fill the gap I tried to maintain! In other words, I maintained the distance between my bike & the car in front of me but an auto-rickshaw decides to fill up the space and now suddenly I am too close to the auto. So I need to again try to maintain the distance between auto-rickshaw & me. Now if I try to maintain the distance with the auto, another bike fills up the space. So, this is like a vicious circle of me never being able to maintain the distance!!

How to handle this? Not easy. Not at all easy. Having said that I found the easiest way to handle this! 🙂 🙂 🙂 The method I use is to accelerate cleverly. Clever, of course, is a very subjective. What I do:

  1. I give just the right amount of distance so that not many people can poke in but enough to tempt the impatient rides/drivers.
  2. When I find a sudden big gap in front of me, I do not accelerate to fill up the space if I see any lane-changing impatient rider in my vision.
  3. Finally, I improved my patience in allowing vehicles to fill up the gap (if desperate) but I don’t allow idiots to barge in. Additionally, I ensure that I give in to the insane people, those who don’t care about consequence & knowingly make mistakes!

So keeping a distance is a talent you will have to develop based on your strengths (like riding ability) and weaknesses (like impatience).

Clever acceleration? Nice. Then Smoother braking, yeah?!

This is kinda obvious, right? This is actually from the 101 of driving lessons – for smoother braking, you need to accelerate smoothly. If you want me to explain this aspect then I hope you don’t have a license.

changing-gears

changing-gears

Smooth braking? Ah! Then lane discipline, please!

This is one of the most interesting change that came about without me realizing it. Because I wanted to brake smoothly, I was forced to maintain the same lane I am in. If I keep changing the lanes then, either:

  1. I am accelerating quicker to over-take few vehicles, which goes against smooth acceleration, or
  2. I am blocking the traffic and maintaining a wrong speed in a wrong lane

I have never been the candidate to block the traffic by maintaining a slower speed on a faster lane. So I was left with no choice but to maintain the lane. This is the beginning of the butterfly-effect for me. Allow me to warn you that maintaining a lane in Bangalore peak hour traffic requires tremendous amount of patience.

Better lane discipline & better braking implies efficient gear changes

Beauty of maintaining the same lane is that my speed is more or less was around the same. This simply meant I didn’t have to change my gears as much.  So beautifully simple, isn’t it? Alright, lemme explain how the speed is more or less same. If you had read the section “Keeping a distance? Cleverly accelerate, please!” you would have noticed me referring to how do I handle space in front of me. Now re-read that & you will realize that if I accelerate faster then I am bound to quickly fill up the gap. And when I do, I am forced to apply brakes (mostly, not smooth) & then change my speed. If you can visualize doing this on road, you will realize “this is exactly what we have always been doing!” This entire blog is about not doing what we have been doing. With that it kinda obvious that we should maintain the speed more or less the same.

Efficient gear changes result in better fuel efficiency

Finally the mother of all statements and straight from Mech 101. I don’t even need to explain this. Again, if you don’t know this then you don’t deserve a vehicle registered on your name.

So essentially your daily driving style changes will also follow the format of this blog: lots of heavy work first and slowly & gradually your effort on the subsequent sections/changes are negligible. Good luck emulating this & gaining the much needed gain in fuel efficiency during these times of high fuel costs.

About the author

Praveen

2 comments

  1. Dhruvkumar

    There was a time when I was thinking there would be more road sense if vehicles did not come with horns at all!

    Thanks for making me believe I’m not the only one who thinks that 😀

  2. Praveen

    My pleasure. Also apocalypse isn’t near 😉

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