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Give me your opinions on riding with earphones.(39 posts)

Give me your opinions on riding with earphones.cyclinseth
Oct 30, 2001 7:46 AM
Now before you torch me up with your flame-throwers, let it be known that I would never ride on the open road with anything obstructing my hearing. The setting is a park that is closed to automobile traffic and has very light pedestrian traffic.

Lately I've become more addicted than ever to news- and talk-radio. Rarely do I find that there is much I wouldn't want to be listening to. But I'd like to get out and train durring the week, especially now that I don't have a job.
I think it's dumbmr_spin
Oct 30, 2001 8:01 AM
Just because you think it is safe, doesn't make it safe. Maybe there are no cars and pedestrians, but if I'm out there too on my bike and you can't hear me coming, you might take me down with a stupid move. I'm not going to like that.

I also wonder how much you can focus on training if you are really listening to the radio?

Finally, to each his own, but one reason I ride is to get away from it all. Why bring it with?
You can train with music...Kristin
Oct 30, 2001 10:36 AM
Okay, perhaps YOU can't train to music. But I can. Joking.

This part of your argument is only valid for certain personality types. I personally push harder with some tunes going. Yeah, there were days when I would listen to the birds and watch the squirells; but those tended to be more casual rides. If my head phones were on, you could tell I was excercising.

On the other hand, I do find that I make many more decissions on the road bike (higher speeds and often on roads) than I ever did on the Hybrid. Music would be too distracting in most situations. Plus, all of the weight added by my walkman... :)
yeahWoof the dog
Oct 30, 2001 7:21 PM
Just imagine a situation where an escaped criminal from a local jale steals a hummer and goes all over town destroying other cars and trolley carts, hits the truck full of Springwater bins, and finally arrives at the park entrance...all to see his daughter. From here on, he weaves between the trees because the pathway is not as wide as his stolen hummer, and finally he reaches a strange guy dressed in lycra see-through yellow speedo with earphones on. A criminal hears the music blasting from the headphones and decides that its illegal and runs the weirdo biker guy over. What a tragic death.

Even worse, imagine not hearing a squirrel before it runs out in front of you only to get caught in the wheel and catapult you over the bars right into a tree. All because you were wearing the park!

I think it is extremely likely that a criminal in a stolen hummer will be doing his usual round of drive-by's in the local park and will hit you. That is why you should never EVER wear earphones IN THE PARK. Its okay to do so on the road with a speedlimit of only 60mph though.

Another scenario, Mr. Spin is doing his usual speedwork in the park without headphones on....wishing to be a morally right animal. Here, he comes upon a weird guy in a yellow see-through speedo wearing headphones - just BLASTING radio out for everyone to hear. Of course, it couldn't be anything else other than the infamous Howard Stern telling how he thinks different races don't mix and how many farts can a disgusting ugly gnome do in 1 minute. So, Mr. Spin feels that he cannot resist the orgasmic vibes created by the radio. He is no longer able to negotiate his speed and crashes into a weirdo guy in yellow see-through speedo. Result: Mr. Spin blames it on the radio vibes while weirdo radio-loving guy gets to fix 13 broken bones and one OCLV frame. I couldn't think of anything else more tragic. Moral: NEVER EVER WEAR EARPHONES IN THE PARK. It is quite dangerous because of all the cars and morons working out that just love your radio.
When cars are present, definitly not a good idea...dirtbag
Oct 30, 2001 8:01 AM
...but as you said, through a park, no cars, light pedestrian each his own. Personally I enjoy the sounds of nature, birds chirping, squirrels scampering through the leaves etc. I can listen to news radio and music when I'm in the truck stuck in traffic.
If you're talking about Prospect, I'd say it should be fine.nigel
Oct 30, 2001 8:08 AM
Hey Seth,

People will probably crucify me for this, too, but if I had a minidisk player or something tiny like that, I'd already be doing it in Central or Prospect during off-peak times (like during the day for us struggling by on the dole). I can barely see the harm in this, seeing as the parks are closed to traffic at these times. Plus, you'd certainly hear a car horn (or even a bike bell) if you either keep the volume low enough or if you only use one earphone.

I've ridden Route 9W so many times--and the shoulder's good there--that I'd even consider listening up there with the volume low enough and with one earphone on.

I say again: if you're looking for someone else to ride with during the day, send me an email: I know Prospect and its environs like the back of my hand.

Happy and safe riding,
Oh yeah, I forgot about the highly unpredictable ...cyclinseth
Oct 30, 2001 8:15 AM
"wild-life" out there. Squirrels and pigeons are tough enough as it is. Think I'll leave it at home.

By the way, I'm thinking about going up to River Rd this weekend for some hill repeats. How does that sound?
River Road sounds nice.nigel
Oct 30, 2001 12:49 PM
Quite an introduction, though! That hill is a rough one, but I enjoy it--and it's good for me. I've done repeats a couple of times there. I'm down. Email me (, and we'll iron out the details. I'll be watching for your mail.

You're intending to ride up there, I take it?

Speak to you soon, Seth.

If you're talking about Prospect, I'd say it should be fine.Raymozet
Oct 30, 2001 10:10 AM
I ride in Prospect park pretty often and unfortunately I have been wiped out by a rollerblader with headphones.
The guy's volume was too loud or he was really concentrating on what he was listening to. Either way it is my opinion that riding with earphones is a bad idea.
Stupid and unsafe for you, motorists, and other cyclists (nm)Chris Zeller
Oct 30, 2001 8:16 AM
I need to hear my machine as it goes128
Oct 30, 2001 8:26 AM
I pick up alot of info about the bike/rider through sound for mechanical adjustments and riding technique.
Wouldn't consider it as interactive riding with tunes/news.
But if it turns your crank and you find it safe...


Thats funny...Kristin
Oct 30, 2001 9:41 AM
I never thought about music and bike mechanics before. Since I don't ride with music any longer, it hasn't affected me. I'm sure that I wouldn't hear that subtle hiss of a a fl*t with music pumping into my ears. And I could, perhaps, damage my rims. for thought.

Last month I turned off the car radio (usually have it cranked) and realized I needed a new muffler. I'm not sure how long it was like that. Another time, I turned the radio off (years ago) and realized a bearing in my altinator was going!
I love the sound of smooth precision128
Oct 30, 2001 10:35 AM
So smooth even the hound dogs ten feet from the road don't know I'm coming till I'm already going! ;)
plus I turn my head to hear for combustion engines roaring in from six o/clock. Could never, never drive 'blind' like that.
Cranking tunes in the car is essential...But during gearing and stuff ya gotta listen to the engine.

"It'a a machine world!" -Roger "leopard skin trousers" Taylor
IMO, it's good for the gene poolcory
Oct 30, 2001 8:45 AM
The park is better than doing it on the road, I guess, but why deprive yourself of one of the two senses that help keep you safe on the bike? When I see people riding with headphones on the road, I just hope a car hits them before they can reproduce.
All it takes is one incident...UncleMoe
Oct 30, 2001 8:59 AM
Despite the fact that it is in a park setting, with no car traffic and few pedestrians, all it takes is one incident and you'll be sorry you were wearing them. This could be:

1. Another biker riding up behind you, calling on your left, you not hearing him/her and crashing.

2. Perhaps a jogger with a couple of dogs running up behind you.

3. Deer running thru the woods and across a trail (I've almost been stomped on, but luckily I heard them, slowed down, and saw them darting across the trail in front of me).

All I'm saying is, there is nothing on the news you can't hear in a few hours. You could ride with head phones for years with no problem and then - BLAM.
I used to ride with them all the time.Elefantino
Oct 30, 2001 9:01 AM
But then I realized what a flaming idiot I had been and how lucky I was to have gotten away with it all that time. Now I just play songs in my head. Much safer and I don't need batteries.
i suppose its necessary if your maried (NM)dupe
Oct 30, 2001 9:40 AM
i suppose its necessary if your maried (NM)dupe
Oct 30, 2001 9:42 AM
re: If it drives your crank, then crank it up! ROCK ON! {safely}Broke Spoke
Oct 30, 2001 9:48 AM
re: Say what?! nmdzrider
Oct 30, 2001 10:57 AM
A little Limbaugh in the afternoon outta get you crankin'! nmBrian C
Oct 30, 2001 11:00 AM
A little Limbaugh in the afternoon outta get you PUKIN' (nm)look271
Nov 1, 2001 2:17 PM
if it's not illegal, it ought to beDog
Oct 30, 2001 11:46 AM
Even a bike coming around you might need to warn you. Big thread about that very issue a few months back.

At least leave one ear uncovered. Cycling is dangerous enough without limiting one of your key survival senses.

What state are you in? I'll check the legality.

did you say illegal? in that case, I just won't dare do it :-)ET
Oct 30, 2001 2:22 PM
You're just too much, Mr. 64--I mean Dog. :-)

It's dangerous, both to rider and others, and that makes it dumb, law or no law.

BTW, if you've been reading Cycling Plus, in the UK it's now illegal to have a blinking nightlight on your bike. Yes, illegal. Why, I haven't figured out, nor, I don't think, has anyone in the British cycling community. Strange lot, those British. But as the British will tell you, it's the lore (er, law).
dumb and illegalDog
Oct 31, 2001 6:52 AM
I suppose so often it's pure stupidity that leads to laws. Why can't we all just drive at a "safe" speed for the conditions? Because idiots will blow it for everyone.

As we know from a few months back, wearing headphones endangers not only the wearer, but others as well. You are a public menace when wearing them.

Strange thing is, sometimes even stupid people will respect the law. Those who might otherwise wear headphones might think twice about it if illegal. But, yes, it's dumb, law or no law. Sad thing is we can't always convince people of what's appropriate; sometimes we need the "right" thing expressed to people by public policy, which is what laws are.

The blinking light thing must be associated with people just becoming irritated with the lights, not safety. If they are that irritating, they must get a driver's attention, right?

I let my subscription to Cyling Plus expire without renewal. While there were some tidbits of good entertainment there, I just found it too disconnected with my interests.

Blinking LightsKristin
Oct 31, 2001 7:05 AM
Did anyone stop to think the "blinking" lights may have been outlawed because they can cause seizures in children?
that really happen?Dog
Oct 31, 2001 7:10 AM
I've heard of that possibility, but has it really happened from a bike light?

There are blinking lights all over the place, though. Car turn signals, emergency vehicles, strobes on towers, commercial signs, some stop lights...

I've read that they are banned on some brevets and PBP because they are simply irritating to riders following another.

Delayed Response...Kristin
Nov 1, 2001 3:03 PM
It can happen. Being highly photosensitve myself (though not epileptic) helped me to make the connection. Some people are very sensitive to high frequencies flashes. And it can cause seizures in children with epilepsy. A these lights we're talking about flashs at over 5 hertz.

Heres some info clipped from:

The frequency of flashing light which is most likely to provoke seizures varies from person to person. Generally, it is between the frequencies of 5-30 flashes per second (hertz). Some people, however, are photosensitive at higher flash frequencies. It is uncommon to have photosensitivity below 5 hertz.
hmm - something to think aboutDog
Nov 1, 2001 3:39 PM
That is certainly worth considering; however, I think we should consider the relative safety of a rider using a flashing vs. constant on light; I'd imagine that the flashing light is much more easily seen and therefore safer. Balancing the relative harm, I would think it would weigh heavily in favor of keeping the flashing lights (i.e., will it save more lives?). That's why I would be concerned about banning them without a study showing how frequently a flashing light really does cause harm. Know what I mean?

from the articleDog
Nov 1, 2001 3:42 PM
"It is uncommon to have photosensitivity below 5 hertz."

I know the flashers I have are likely below that frequency, more like 2-5 Hz. If that is truly the concern, then, if still necessary, they should ban only flashers above that frequency, right?

That's what I would thinkKristin
Nov 2, 2001 7:25 AM
The only flashing lights I've seen are quite fast--10+ flashes/second. I wasn't aware that they were made at a lower hertz. I would think that a law designed for this reason would only restrict only the 5+ hertz ones.

Can't someone post an explaination for this law??? I did an online search to turned up nothing. Someone's got to have the goods on this.
a little infoDog
Nov 2, 2001 8:50 AM

* 4.2. Are those little LED lights legal?
From the uk.rec.cycling FAQ:

What's the situation regarding LED lights?
The Road Traffic Act states that for use at night, a bicycle must be fitted with front and rear lights that conform to the appropriate British Standard (which isn't exactly held in high esteem by many people!) or a suitable European equivalent. There's a general conflict of opinion as to whether LED lights, particularly those with only a `flashing' mode, conform to the British Standard, being as an LED isn't a `steady' source in the same way that an incandescent bulb is. Despite that, many LED lights are built to Dutch or German standards, so should technically be legal in the UK - more information can be found in the February/March issue of the CTC magazine.

All that said, LED lights are widely used because they're available fairly cheaply, are very visible and can go for a long time before the batteries need changing. There have been no reports of anybody being prosecuted for using LED lights on their bikes. Despite the quasi-legality of LED lights, having solely LED lights on your bike (especially one of those green `headlight' jobs) is not a good idea. Indeed, a large number of people use LEDs as backup lights, either with a dynamo or with more conventional lights. Although it's common sense, riding at night without lights is not only dangerous, it's also illegal.

From: Colin Blackburn
> I believe something forbids you have to have LEDs of any sort. See the
> ox.FAQ.

Not anymore. The current BS allows for steady (rear) LEDs. Cateye, for
one, do an LED which satisfies that standard.



still looking
Nov 1, 2001 1:35 PM
Wearing headphones or other devices that cover the ears are illegal whn driving a vehicle in PA. Since a bicycle is considered a vehicle in this state (and alot of others) it would be reasonable to assume that it would be illegal to ride a bike with them on. Doubt that anyone has ever been stopped, though......As for Cycling +, I did as you did. A few bits of worthwile info, but not enough to justify the subscription price. Man, I wish they would bring Bicyclist mag back!
my house at HalloweenDog
Oct 31, 2001 7:57 AM
re: Give me your opinions on riding with earphones.capnjim01
Oct 30, 2001 12:05 PM
it's probably ok if you have an organ donor card. really even if it's closed to trafic another cyclist could come to close and you never hear him and could be trouble. leave the headphones for the indoor trainer
in one ear, out the otherclimbo
Oct 30, 2001 12:06 PM
I am a convert to this recently. I have it in my right ear only so I can hear traffic at the same time. I don't find it any worse that nothing at all, I can still hear the cars coming from a fair way behind me. As for pedestrians/roller bladers etc., they shouldn't be on the roads where I am riding. Most of the time they are not and I can see them a mile away anyway, they're no problem if you're careful about it. A bigger problem are the joggers with no lights or reflective clothing running towards me on the road and you can't see them at all...I hate those people.
can't think of ONE good reasonfiltersweep
Oct 30, 2001 4:56 PM
aside from the safety issues, you'd have to crank the volume to hear it over the wind noise

I prefer the solitude where I can really get inside my head and sort out all the stresses of the days- it baffles me at the gym how many people I see with those armband radios... it would be intrusive to me- but then again, I deal with people all day, and I recharge my batteries (so to speak) by being alone (the most precious time of the day, limited as it may be)- unlike some people who need to recharge their batteries by dumping on anyone who will listen. It can drive my girlfriend crazy that I almost never talk about work at home ( I don't want that garbage in my house- it belongs at work).
Oct 31, 2001 12:26 AM
some people can handle it some can'tTi Guy
Nov 2, 2001 3:29 PM
should we ban car radios as well? what about headphones for joggers who might 'run' a red light? get real. esp if you're on a bike/walk path. it's pretty common sense. no you dont want to blare your radio so loud that u cant hear emergency vehicles, or someone shouting 'on your left' on the bike path, or a bike part makin noise.. but listening to headphones doesn't make all users 100% self absorbed, i think most ppl can handle it. and if you think you can't, then don't do it. i know a few ultramarathon riders who chit chat while they ride, this can be just as absorbing if not more than listening to the radio eh? sall about common sense and knowing your limits. should sightseeing while riding be banned? it takes your eyes off the road afterall.. i think most riders are pretty aware of their surroundings.. headphones or not. music and talk radio may actually help from zoning out or falling asleep on those long rides, hahah!