Joy Ride! The Musical (advocating city biking while listening to music)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Joy Ride! The Musical (advocating city biking while listening to music)

    Anyone see this article…? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/th...?_r=1&emc=eta1

    I foresee a pre-stamp for Broadway musical in the making upon reading this article. Although, they cover their basis, “…city program that shuts Park Avenue and connecting streets to car traffic, from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, mitigating the potential danger of riding while listening to music. (Legally, riders are supposed to wear only one earphone.)” Most of us can appreciate this will not be the case of many riders who don MP3 players while cycling (especially in heavily trafficked areas as NYC). In any case, it’s interesting publicity to say the least.

    I’m sure Bike Snob NYC will have a field day with this one; I haven’t followed his blog this week.

  2. #2
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    I listen to the iPod evey day on my commute... But I wouldn't do it in NYC
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  3. #3
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    No ear buds for me bud. I have tinitis and friction shifting. I need my hearing to tell if I need to trim or not. Hard enough over ringing in the ears, tire, wind, and traffic noise. I find it hard enough to keep my attention and watch for homicycle maniacs (aka 'dumb drivers') in these parts, all I need is to be mental air guitaring....

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    I wear ear buds, keep the volume low. In light traffic or during the the bike path only portion along the river, I jam the ear buds in a little snugger to reduce wind noise. It seems to lessen the psychological effect of wind as an obsticle.
    I bike through OKC, by the way. much less cars and much more wind.

  5. #5
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    In the winter I wear the earbuds that go in and seal with the little rubber piece, then an ear warmer headband thingy, then a 'clava, then the helmet. I can't stand the wind noise in my earbuds. Give me music or give me wind, not both

    But again, my disclaimer is that I see 5 or 7 cars on an average morning.
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  6. #6
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    I was waiting for a few responses before I chimed in; honestly, I really see nothing wrong with jamming to tunes while riding (under the moderation of the user). I actually listened to my MP3 player out at the trail Saturday morning (which is unusual for me but I expected to be flying solo mostly) I usually rather not if I am riding in a pack I find it kind of rude – especially if others want to chat along the ride.

    CB makes a good point of acceptable under low traffic. My commute demands a good bit of focus so I couldn’t dream of adding music to the element (especially in 5 o’clock afternoon traffic). In the case of the article, it seems as though they are advocating listening to music while riding ‘under caution’. However, if you keep up with blogs like Bike Snob and others that commute regularly in NYC they have their fair share of idiocy with bad cycling techniques, judgments at intersections, etc. Add something like “You would see some people bobbing their heads or sort of dancing on their bikes…” seems counteractive under bicycling safety (at least under NYC conditions). Snob mentioned some time back they were even having a problem with cyclists “texting while riding” which sounds totally absurd to me.

    Regardless to riding with or without among the experienced, in general cycling is becoming increasingly popular in urban settings. It’s just interesting to me how little things like are really relevant to the experience itself.

  7. #7
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    Honestly, hearing is a little overrated. Like anyone else who is a proactive driver/rider, you should be scanning all the time for vehicles, obstacles and the like. In my experience in commuting and urban riding (thousands and thousands of miles?) hearing has never been helpful. Seeing person in a parked car helps me predict potential dooring- shoulder check, move over to give more space. Seeing a downed branch, seeing a car come up fast on the intersection... I dunno. I don't always listen to music, but when I do, I'm rocking out.

    Bike Snob hasn't written anything about, at least not yet.

  8. #8
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    ^^ I would add that 1 of the 5 or 7 cars I see every morning is a hybrid. That's the one that's going to kill me anyway. iPod or not, you're not going to hear it coming. You might as well be enjoying the music when it finally takes you out.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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    ^^ That is one of my favorite thoughts- that you'll be able to hear the car that is coming too close. Sounds like a car coming, but whether they are going to give you space or pick you off... I'd just rather not year the damned thing.

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    Hearing helps me be a far safer rider.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Hearing helps me be a far safer rider.
    One must always support a thesis, and I'm here to learn.

  12. #12
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    You can hear other bikers coming up to pass.

    You can hear people talking around blind corners.

    You can hear cars around blind corners.

    You can hear a warning shouted out by other people.

    You can hear cars doing various things when you are looking the other way, stopping, accelerating, cruising.

    You can hear dogs barking and/or snarling.

    You can hear your riding partner advising on the ridablity of some obstacle.

    You can hear Light Rail Transit Cars coming, also the warning bells at crossing.

    Lots more take the ear buds out and have a listen sometime.

    You can hear drivetrain problems developing.

    You can hear brakes rubbing.

    You can hear a tire leak, get off put your finger over it and get the Stans to seal up.

    You can hear a creak and make sure it is not a frame waiting to break.

  13. #13
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    You can hear other bikers coming up to pass.

    This doesn't happen often for me and at 15-18 mph without headphones I can't hear drivetrain noise for warnings anyway. I can hear "On yer left!" or a bell through headphones, even it is on pretty loud.

    You can hear people talking around blind corners.

    You can hear cars around blind corners.


    I always check my speed for adequate emergency braking distance, with or without headphones. Relying on hearing for either circumstance is not being safe. I also ride a motorcycle and one can't rely on hearing at the speeds/engine noise, so you know your vehicle and ride accordingly. I do not doubt there might be times where there could be an advantage.

    You can hear a warning shouted out by other people.

    You can hear cars doing various things when you are looking the other way, stopping, accelerating, cruising.


    I agree, but again- most cars are loud enough that I hear them anyway and shouts come through, though I don't always catch the words.

    You can hear dogs barking and/or snarling.

    Never had a problem with this, but I see the validity.

    You can hear your riding partner advising on the ridablity of some obstacle.

    I don't ride with people and headphones. Personal preference.

    You can hear Light Rail Transit Cars coming, also the warning bells at crossing.

    I avoid tracks because of tire suck and at their crossings you can hear/feel them.

    Lots more take the ear buds out and have a listen sometime.

    I agree and I haven't used my music player in a month or two. Don't have a great explanation, but I haven't wanted it.

    You can hear drivetrain problems developing.

    You can hear brakes rubbing.


    I ride SS/fixed for commuting and I don't wear headphones on singletrack. If something is creaking or needs lube, or readjustment, there are quiet periods between songs to catch those issues through hearing.

    You can hear a tire leak, get off put your finger over it and get the Stans to seal up.


    Tubes, so if there is a leak, I'm boned. But I don't get flats on a regular basis.

    You can hear a creak and make sure it is not a frame waiting to break.

    Despite all of my old and somewhat shitty bikes, this has never been an issue, but same thing as before- there are quiet times when noises make themselves heard.


    And, I'm not entirely disagreeing with you. I think most headphone related issues are overblown if people follow proper safety and courtesy protocols. I always check blind spots and signal when taking a turn. Because you should. But I do run into people riding down the middle of the bike path and don't hear my bell or shouts as I get close to them. However, it would be a non-issue if they would just stay to the right in the first place.

    One day I'll probably eat it because of my headphones and then I'll revive the thread with an apology.

  14. #14
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    In true jsffscott fasion, here are my red-lettered rebuttals for my commute

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    You can hear other bikers coming up to pass. No other bikers

    You can hear people talking around blind corners. No people, no blind corners

    You can hear cars around blind corners. only 5 cars, no blind corners

    You can hear a warning shouted out by other people. No people

    You can hear cars doing various things when you are looking the other way, stopping, accelerating, cruising. 5 cars, can't see 'em anyway, they're coming up from behind.

    You can hear dogs barking and/or snarling. I hear them even with the earbuds. No mistaking a mad dog.

    You can hear your riding partner advising on the ridablity of some obstacle. If I had a riding partner I wouldn't trust them anyway.

    You can hear Light Rail Transit Cars coming, also the warning bells at crossing. This is greek

    Lots more take the ear buds out and have a listen sometime. Tried it. The only cool sound I'm missing is the scratching of deer hooves on pavement when they scramble out of the way.

    You can hear drivetrain problems developing. Very valid one here... I've heard strange sounds between songs...but I maintain the bike regularly at home, so I generally don't let these problems develop in the first place.

    You can hear brakes rubbing. Valid again, but you can feel this one too.

    You can hear a tire leak, get off put your finger over it and get the Stans to seal up. Most valid one yet. Hasn't happened to me yet, but it could. If it's a front tire you'll feel the sealant hitting your face though.

    You can hear a creak and make sure it is not a frame waiting to break. You should have found out about this issue weeks ago during your regular maintenance.
    I will add though that I've been doing the singletrack commute, and there have been both a mountain lion and a bear spotted in the area recently...not that it would help if I could hear it, but I do feel a little more vlunerable in my cocoon of music when I'm cruising through the woods at dawn.

    ...but have you ever blasted a section of singletrack to Audioslave? It's like starring in your own movie.
    Last edited by CommuterBoy; 08-23-2010 at 02:02 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    You can hear other bikers coming up to pass.

    This doesn't happen often for me and at 15-18 mph without headphones I can't hear drivetrain noise for warnings anyway.I ride about the same and can hear the drivetrain fine I can hear "On yer left!" or a bell through headphones, even it is on pretty loud.If the other guy does something is not a safe proposition

    You can hear people talking around blind corners.

    You can hear cars around blind corners.


    I always check my speed for adequate emergency braking distance, with or without headphones. Relying on hearing for either circumstance is not being safe.Of course and you still need to listen I also ride a motorcycle and one can't rely on hearing at the speeds/engine noise, so you know your vehicle and ride accordingly. I do not doubt there might be times where there could be an advantage.There you go

    You can hear a warning shouted out by other people.

    You can hear cars doing various things when you are looking the other way, stopping, accelerating, cruising.


    I agree, but again- most cars are loud enough that I hear them anyway and shouts come through, though I don't always catch the words.Again safer

    You can hear dogs barking and/or snarling.

    Never had a problem with this, but I see the validity.

    You can hear your riding partner advising on the ridablity of some obstacle.

    I don't ride with people and headphones. Personal preference.

    You can hear Light Rail Transit Cars coming, also the warning bells at crossing.

    I avoid tracks because of tire suck and at their crossings you can hear/feel them.This one has gotten several people killed in my town

    Lots more take the ear buds out and have a listen sometime.

    I agree and I haven't used my music player in a month or two. Don't have a great explanation, but I haven't wanted it.

    You can hear drivetrain problems developing.

    You can hear brakes rubbing.


    I ride SS/fixed for commutingSo everything busts and I don't wear headphones on singletrack. If something is creaking or needs lube, or readjustment, there are quiet periods between songs to catch those issues through hearing.not always but as before you can always take them out

    You can hear a tire leak, get off put your finger over it and get the Stans to seal up.


    Tubes, so if there is a leak, I'm boned. But I don't get flats on a regular basis.

    You can hear a creak and make sure it is not a frame waiting to break.

    Despite all of my old and somewhat shitty bikes, this has never been an issue, but same thing as before- there are quiet times when noises make themselves heard.


    And, I'm not entirely disagreeing with you. I think most headphone related issues are overblown if people follow proper safety and courtesy protocols. I always check blind spots and signal when taking a turn. Because you should. But I do run into people riding down the middle of the bike path and don't hear my bell or shouts as I get close to them. However, it would be a non-issue if they would just stay to the right in the first place.

    One day I'll probably eat it because of my headphones and then I'll revive the thread with an apology.
    No apology neccessary all I ever look for is the realization that safety is built up by many little details.

    I don't wear headphones tried em don't like em. Makes me feel somehow "enclosed" not out in the open.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy
    In true jsffscott fasion, here are my red-lettered rebuttals for my commute

    Nice but the your logic is faulty...

    Safety is about prevent accidents from occurring..

    Not rationalizations as to why those actions may or may not be useful normally...

    After an accident, most people say things like I just didn't see that...

    Or no one is ever in that place

    Or I cross the train tracks everyday and I have never seen a train...

    Or perhaps my favourite....there are only ever five cars on that road.....I didn't expect that teenager to cream my from behind.

  17. #17
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    Having seen pics of C boy's commute, ear buds are of little to no issue for him there, as long as the volume isn't destroying the eardrums. Being a teacher, he has super hearing that can pick up whispering at the back of the class.

    I have had Prius and other quietly driven cars sneak up on me, so I don't hear well enough to sacrifice any of my hearing. Wind noise can mask the fact the chain is dragging on the FD.

    So I suspect some can ride with earbuds hearing as well and riding as safely as I do without. YMMV.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    I didn't expect that teenager to cream my from behind.
    Pardon me?


    It's about managing risk. We had all better be dang sure that we have accounted for as many variables as we can think of for our own situations. I refine my safety checklist daily, and I don't pretend to have the solution for everyone else. I am very confident that I'll still be riding to work until I retire based on how well I manage the risks I'm presented with. If I didn't feel that way I'd change something. I might change something tomorrow. As far as my use of earbuds at the volume level and in the locations I use them, I can confidently say that it does not add to the risk. I would encourage everyone else to not do it just because I do.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Or perhaps my favourite....there are only ever five cars on that road.....I didn't expect that teenager to cream my from behind.
    Your logic is faulty. There is nothing you can do if someone hits you behind. That is just **** luck.

    Even if your own arguments you say, "After an accident, most people say things like I just didn't see that..."

    I tend to try and not create arguments on threads, but I do try respect other view points. I have never had hearing be any help for safety on rides. Understand traffic patterns, scan and checking blind spots make a huge difference. Hearing....

    And work a little on your responses. I still haven't made sense of this:

    "This doesn't happen often for me and at 15-18 mph without headphones I can't hear drivetrain noise for warnings anyway.I ride about the same and can hear the drivetrain fine I can hear "On yer left!" or a bell through headphones, even it is on pretty loud.If the other guy does something is not a safe proposition."

    I do know people get taken out by light rail all the time. It is unfortunate, but that is indicative of not paying attention, not music players.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    Your logic is faulty. There is nothing you can do if someone hits you behind. That is just **** luck.Nope not at all true most accidents are preventable

    Even if your own arguments you say, "After an accident, most people say things like I just didn't see that..."Those are usually the most easy prevented accidents

    I tend to try and not create arguments on threads, but I do try respect other view points. I have never had hearing be any help for safety on rides. Understand traffic patterns, scan and checking blind spots make a huge difference. Hearing....

    And work a little on your responses. I still haven't made sense of this:

    "This doesn't happen often for me and at 15-18 mph without headphones I can't hear drivetrain noise for warnings anyway.I ride about the same and can hear the drivetrain fine I can hear "On yer left!" or a bell through headphones, even it is on pretty loud.(If the other guy does something is not a safe proposition.")

    No problem: you are relying on the passing rider to do something to help ensure your safety....that is not smart.

    I do know people get taken out by light rail all the time. It is unfortunate, but that is indicative of not paying attention, not music players. Really so do you pay attention to the music perhaps sing along
    Sorry I don't give a rats ass what you do or don't do....

    But safety is built up with many small actions and precautions.

    Discussions about why certain precautions that are easily taken are not required are not about increasing safety.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy
    Pardon me?


    It's about managing risk. YesWe had all better be dang sure that we have accounted for as many variables as we can think of for our own situations. I refine my safety checklist daily, and I don't pretend to have the solution for everyone else. I am very confident that I'll still be riding to work until I retire based on how well I manage the risks I'm presented with. If I didn't feel that way I'd change something. I might change something tomorrow.Maybe listen too the birds sing As far as my use of earbuds at the volume level and in the locations I use them, I can confidently say that it does not add to the risk.No one be sure I would encourage everyone else to not do it just because I do.
    So you are perfect...great job, hope that teenager who stayed over night at the neighbors doesn't take you out one dark cold lonely early morning.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Nope not at all true most accidents are preventable. Um, clearly. But can you explain to me how I am going to predict that one car of thousands that pass me every year that is going to hit me by hearing it? I just want to understand if I'm totally missing something here.

    Those are usually the most easy prevented accidents. Then we're in agreement.

    No problem: you are relying on the passing rider to do something to help ensure your safety....that is not smart. Agreed again. As I said, I stay to the right, check blind spots, signal, you name it. Without headphones, most days you would not year me behind you because my drivetrain is silent and the wind noise at that speed (15mph) likely would cancel out most commuter's drivetrains. So in some ways, you are left at the mercy of other riders. Lucky me, in this regard, as I average about 19mph and only very rarely get passed.

    Really so do you pay attention to the music perhaps sing along Sure, but it better be late at night or early morning because I'm a terrible singer. I also see why sometimes your red type throws me for a loop- lack of punctuation sometimes owns me.
    Thankfully, earbuds don't make me a cycling zombie. If they impaired my riding safety in any noticeable way, I wouldn't wear them. Don't misconstrue my arguments for attempting to say everyone should ride with headphones, because that may not be true for everyone. People should know proper safety and if music is distracting or causes paralysis of the eyes for an individual, then I heartily agree that they should not wear headphones. However, your arguments remind me of most mass media- cyclist gets right hooked by a car and was listening to the music and all the sudden the problem isn't the car totally ignoring a legal transportation lane when they turn, but the fact that the cyclist was wearing headphones.

    So most accidents are preventable. The problem is that there are still way too many people driving cars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    So you are perfect...great job, hope that teenager who stayed over night at the neighbors doesn't take you out one dark cold lonely early morning.

    If I was perfect I wouldn't need to refine my safety checklist on a regular basis...don't just argue for the sake of arguing...you talk far more than you listen. If not wearing an iPod could keep the teenager from taking me out, I'd stop tomorrow. I hope a teenager doesn't punch you in the face for irritating them
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    I listen to music fo rmy commute. Whether in car or on bike. it is what I do. On a bike, I am aware that the saety issue is needs my ears, so I make sure I don't hear only music. more of a background music so the rhythm helps get my ignited for the day an dhelps me keep a steady pace.
    Trails, nothing but nature. no earbuds... unless I duct tape them to my head, I'd be spending too much time adjusting them to hear... and miss the beautiful ride.
    I make the listenign choice based on the fact that if I don't rock out a bit on the commute, I'd be slower and grumpier when I get there.. and no one wants a grumpy, sweaty 36 year old as a boss.

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    Wow, this thread has really opened up the debate. I suspected the side in favor of riding without music was the safer however, it appears the sides may be about even.

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    Those responding to the topic apparrently consider their actions and the effects they might have. In general, if they think the buds will be too distracting or unsafe, then they don't use them. If they do use them, they seem to use them with enough restraint they are not becoming technozombies on a bike (enough around as pedestrians).

    There appear to be some who see even the smallest extra risk in any situation as inappropriate regardless of the actual situation and benefit to the individual or that the harm likely falls on the user..

    Risk reduction isn't the purpose of life. Risk optimization is. That is highly situational and individual in nature.

    For those who find ear buds worth the risk in their situation, there is some resistance to others who make blanket statements for their non-use as a safety concern. Yes, every little bit of added safety helps BUT if we take that approach to the ridiculous, then we should never get out of bed or be born. A life worth the living has risks. It is not that the opinion of added safety is incorrect, so much as it is an individuals freedom to select which risks he or she is willing to accept when and where for what benefits, and not fo someone else to suggest there is only one way.

    Remember deaf people ride bikes safely. Distracted cyclists may not be doing so.

    We need discussions like this to let us ride in the other guy's cycling shoes.

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    ^^ Well said.

    I would only add that you should never judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes...that way, if he gets upset, you'll be a mile away and he'll be barefoot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy
    If I was perfect I wouldn't need to refine my safety checklist on a regular basis.when and what was the last change you made..don't just argue for the sake of arguing.that your angle got the last word yet?..you talk far more than you listen. If not wearing an iPod could keep the teenager from taking me out, I'd stop tomorrow.Why not today? I hope a teenager doesn't punch you in the face for irritating them

    Kinda feels like you are getting irritated, maybe a little too much teenager in you still?

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    Safety wise, the last change I made was light related... had the wife follow me in the dark and advise me on blinky taillight angles, helmet mount vs bike mount, and lane position in the dark.

    me no understand "that your angle got the last word yet."

    I don't wear my iPod every day. I use it a lot, but I didn't listen to it on the way home yesterday, just because I knew what was on it and didn't feel like listening to that music right then. It's not a mandatory item for me by any means, I just don't have any safety concerns (for myself, in my situation) when I use it. I can still hear what little traffic I deal with, etc, etc.

    And yes, I'm incredibly immature. It's part of my charm.
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  31. #31
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    I Never ride with headphones

    b/c my ears are my eyes.

  32. #32
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    ^^ If you turn your head sideways can you see up the trail AND down the trail behind you?
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc
    Risk reduction isn't the purpose of life. Risk optimization is. That is highly situational and individual in nature.
    I don't know if anyone read the article I linked, but this is something I stumble across a lot working for transportation planning. From most statistics, it is a 50-50 split with bicycle accidents- 50% are solo crashes. Going to fast, slipping on something wet, hitting a concrete barrier. 50% are car related, 90% of those are the car driver's fault. All of them can be mitigated to some degree. I never find myself on the right side of a car whenever there is a possible right turn coming up. I always look through car windows if they are parked on the side of the road.

    Hearing is going to be a large factor in (maybe) 1% of incidents. Saying earbuds cause a huge safety risk is like saying riding without at least one finger over a brake lever at all times is a huge safety risk. If you are going to pick something ridiculous to get on a high horse about, do it with proper brake covering. I don't do it all the time, but when things start getting busy- downtown during rush hour, cover your front brake, at which you'll notice that your best brake for stopping power is located on your left side, which also happens to be the typical signaling arm. Now you're riding with one hand and a weak brake....

    Just seems there are actual things to have strong feelings about. There are enough problems without making additional ones up.

  34. #34
    Bedwards Of The West
    Reputation: CommuterBoy's Avatar
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    ^^ very true.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  35. #35
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    When you speak of ‘ear buds’ are you referring to ‘noise-cancellation type? I got a pair of Shure noise cancellation ear buds about 2 years ago as a Xmas present and when I have those donned I can’t hear anything but my tunes (they are pretty much ear plugs as headphones). There is no way I would wear those while I am outdoors, I have a set of Sony (wrap around) Sport ear buds I wear when I run in the morning and sometimes when on the trail, I can hear a good bit of my surroundings with those.

    Being able to hear outside/surroundings isn’t as much concern to me as they are simply a distraction from the task at hand if I commuting. I sort of like my undivided attention on everything (maybe I am playing it too safe). Of course, I did get hit by a car once and the driver blew her horn before she hit which allowed me to swerve to only get clipped by her side mirror.

    I enjoy good reasoning for debate as long as it is backed up by fact and less opinions. The majority of this discussion is being backed up by fact and experience so it’s good intel. Carry on.

  36. #36
    Bedwards Of The West
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    I have the sony wrap around sport ones, not 'noise cancellation' ones. They are in-ear, but I do hear outside noises like cars coming up from behind.

    Another point I haven't mentioned is that for the majority of my commuting year, I'm riding in the dark in a very rural area. I see headlights lighting up the road next to me long before I hear the car coming, with or without music.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  37. #37
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    Hey, just take one bud out in the danger spots.

    That's what I do.

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