Freddie wrote:I don't think the comparison is entirely fair. The arguments in favour of headphones are the bad ones.
Take the risk if you must, just don't pretend that it is comparable to going without a helmet. A helmet protects you from a fall (infrequent event), whereby you might hit your head (rare even in a fall, save certain types of mountain biking).
Wearing headphones diminishes your ability at all times to fully understand traffic and risks around you. This cumulative diminishment is worse, since you are wearing headphones the entire time you are cycling. Headphones worn whilst offroading, on the other hand, I don't see a particular problem with.
The lack of a helmet may impact you in certain, thankfully rare circumstances, while wearing headphones hobbles you for as long as you use them. There is a difference between avoiding a potential, infrequent risk and increasing risk at all times for no good reason (save to stave off boredom).
I hadn't intended to compare the wearing of headphones as being better or worse, in safety terms, as the wearing of a helmet. I was comparing the arguments used, which in either case seem to depend more on the application of personal feelings, 'common sense' etc. than solid data and statistical analysis.