Listening to music, audiobooks, or your favorite podcast while cycling sounds like bliss to many bike-riding enthusiasts. The music or audio content makes the trip more enjoyable and beefs up the effects of happy hormones. However, cycling with headphones is a hot topic that divides the cycling community.
Cyclists and other road users wonder if it is illegal to cycle with headphones because listening to content while cycling can be distractive and dangerous. You may be tempted to skip a boring song or rewind when you miss the point, which means getting your hands off the bike’s handlebars. It is illegal to ride a bike without holding the handlebars in the US. Generally, many road users see a cyclist with headphones as a threat to their safety. Read on to find out why.
Limited hearing capacity is the primary reason why wearing headphones while cycling is considered dangerous. When you wear headphones, you cut off your ability to hear what is happening around you. Many people argue that if deaf people can ride a bike without posing danger on public roads, then limited hearing caused by headphones should not be a problem.
What they fail to understand is that deaf people can compensate for their hearing limitations as they have been doing for a long time, but a person listening to their headphones is likely to get highly distracted and pay less attention on the road, especially if they are speeding. Would you like to know more about bike speeds? Check out our article on the average bike speed and distance for beginners to understand what to expect from your performance. While at it, look up how to make your bike faster if you are all about fast riding speeds.
The type of earphones you use make a huge difference as to how much you can hear when cycling. The ear-bud type that sits outside the canal lets in more ambient noise than the in-ear type that goes into the ear canal.
You would get ambient noise of 79dB with typical ear-bud headphones on, if you are not playing anything. The in-ear type would give you 71dB, which surprisingly, is louder than what you would get inside a car.
Surprisingly, only seven states in the US regulates cycling with headphones. The states are Florida, Maryland, California, Delaware, New York, Virginia and Rhode Island. Maryland allows the use of headphones on bike paths only. Virginia, New York, California and Delaware prohibit the use of headphones on both ears.
In Pennsylvania, drivers are prohibited from wearing headphones, and so many people assume that it extends to cyclists even though it is not explicitly declared.
In the other 43 states, it is legal to cycle with headphones, but you may get cursed out and seen as a safety threat.
It is safe to cycle with headphones if you can hear what is happening around you. It is important to have a sensory advantage when cycling on the road, for yours and other road users’ safety.
A recent study Trusted Source Cycling’s sensory strategies: how cyclists mediate their exposure to the urban environment In this article, we focus on the many ways cyclists mediate their sensory exposure to the urban environment. westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk on cycling’s sensory strategy by the University of Westminister found that listening to music on headphones can help a cyclist sensory strategy for coping with riding in a dangerous environment. According to the study, cyclists are able to create safe, comfortable, and social space with music to tame and negotiate challenging environment like drivers do with radio.
Nonetheless, headphones that impair your ability to hear what is happening around you when cycling are unsafe. Depending on the type, it can be safe to cycle with headphones.
Riding with headphones is a matter of personal preference as there are good arguments Trusted Source Should you listen to music through earphones whilst cycling? Whilst banning wearing headphones whilst cycling may seem obvious for safety reasons, this behaviour restriction could be unfounded. www.pure.ed.ac.uk for why a cyclist should or should not ride with headphones. Although you could safely cycle with some types of headphones, listening to headphones while cycling is unnecessary unless you are riding on private roads and land. Wearing headphones while cycling is more than just a safety risk. Your in-town riding performance decreases and you could be breaking the law.
If you decide that you and your playlists are inseparable, here are some safety tips Trusted Source 10 tips to safely listen to music while running or biking Running or biking while listening to music can be dangerous if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Follow these tips to do it safely. www.cnet.com to consider when biking with headphones;
Use safe headphones: Experts recommend using bone conducting ear phones as open ear headphones are the best for situational music and will allow you to hear ambient noise. The headphones work by playing sound wave vibrations on your temporal bone. The bone keeps all the sounds you can hear and conducts the sound waves to your brain for translation into music without involving the eardrum.
Control the volume: Avoid turning up your music so loud that your headphones drown out all the noise from outside. If you can have a reasonable volume that allows you to hear the activities in the environment, cycling can be enjoyable for you.
Wear a helmet: At least be the cool rider with headphones and a helmet. If you don’t have one, try the popular Smart4U SH55M Adult Bike Helmet. It features LED rear lights for signaling other motorists of your presence and Bluetooth capability.
A great alternative is the Sena R2 Road Cycling Helmet. It also has integrated LED taillight, built-in speakers, and microphone for safety and entertainment purposes.
Cycling with headphones is a grey area, even though research studies support both arguments of whether it is right or wrong. Listening to music would undoubtedly make your riding experience more enjoyable, but you have to be aware of the risks involved in cycling with headphones on a public road. If you have to listen to headphones when riding, use the right kind and control the volume so that you can hear noise from the environment. You could also control the volume and pay extra attention on the road. Most importantly, check with your state’s or country’s laws that it is legal to cycle with headphones. If you are still unsure about the safety concerns, try an alternative to cycling with headphones, like a clip-on Bluetooth speaker.