SAANICH -- You’ll hear them before you see them – Brian and his bike horn.

“Everybody else has ding-ding,” Brian says of the sounds other cyclists make.

But there was something about the honk-honk of his horn, that made Brian happy.

“It’s a great horn!” he smiles.

Most bike bells make sounds with the flick of a finger on a switch. On Brian’s, you have to squeeze a rubber ball to honk the horn.

Brian and his bike horn were inseparable for a couple years, until things took an unexpected turn.

“It scared the crap out of me,” he explains of his initial reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I didn’t know what the heck was going to happen.”

Nobody did. Buildings were boarded up. The streets were deserted.

“When hockey season was cancelled, it became real to every Canadian,” he says.

Brian and his bike horn stayed home too, for weeks.

But then the shootings in Nova Scotia made it all feel like too much. They hit the road. At first, in silence. Until one day – approaching a stranger – the horn was compelled to speak.

“This person did not look happy,” Brian recalls. “I gave them a honk and they said, ‘I really needed that.’”

The moment inspired Brian to launch what he dubbed a ‘cycle-ogical experiment’ to see what the horn’s honk might do to the moods of the people they passed.

A few people, he says, found the horn bewildering or annoying.

“[But] 99 per cent of the time people will smile, laugh, giggle, say thank you,” Brian says.

The honk seems to pull people out of themselves, he suggests, and place them back in the here and now.

“We’re very blessed living on this island,” Brian smiles. “If you’re going to be in a pandemic, be in paradise.”

And if you want to be happy, perhaps strive to make others happy — one honk at a time.