Wearing earphones

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
Ben@Forest
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Wearing earphones

Postby Ben@Forest » 22 Jul 2014, 1:00pm

I'm posting this further to a recent post about a cyclist who could hear nothing, absolutely nothing when I rode up alongside him because he was wearing earphones. A point was made that this is no worse than a loud radio in a car, also there is absolutely no restriction on driving when deaf – you don't even have to tell the DVLA.

However many years ago I am aware of a case where a moped rider who was knocked off by a driver was later found partially to be at fault because he had been wearing ‘Walkman’ earphones under his helmet, despite the fact that it was otherwise all the fault of the car driver (rear-ended and then hit by the car and quite seriously hurt). Could this be the case if a similar incident happened to a bike rider?

beardy
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby beardy » 22 Jul 2014, 1:16pm

It is perfectly safe for me to drive my car listening to music or radio4, it is even recommended to keep me awake!
That is over a tonne of metal up to 70mph.

Yet on a motorbike or cycle it is considered suicidal. :roll:

Bicycler
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby Bicycler » 22 Jul 2014, 1:18pm

Insurance companies will try and claim almost anything as contributory negligence (lack of helmet/ hi-vis/ lighting and reflector irregularities...). From what I've heard they don't like taking such cases to court for fear that a precedent may be set in the claimant's favour. Most people settle before court though.

FWIW, I can both see the benefit of using hearing in addition to observation and also the risk of relying on it instead of adequate observation. After a while on quiet roads I find myself getting lazy and not looking round very frequently because I can hear things coming. Personally I believe that all (non-deaf) road users should be able to hear a car's horn and shouldn't be distracted by loud music. However, we don't apply that rule to drivers and I can't see why it would be more important for the less dangerous road users.

RichardPH
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby RichardPH » 22 Jul 2014, 1:38pm

Wind the clock back 70 years and pretty much the only music available was live music.

Nowadays anyone who questions the use of personal entertainment systems in any scenario is regarded as odd and out of step, but frankly to remove one sense and then go out into a world full of hazards is asking for trouble. So, yes it's a factor that should be taken into account when assessing blame. The example you quote does seem a bit odd however since the victim was on a machine that was itself noisier than the car behind, I doubt he could hear the car coming even if he wasn't wearing the Walkman.

But in answer to the central question, wearing headphones whilst riding a bicycle, if you do this you're halfway to membership of the Darwin club. The attitude of the driver approaching unseen can be read by the noise of the engine and the rate at which it's getting louder, all clues to staying alive on a bike. Actually even the fact that there is a vehicle in the vicinity is important information that helps us avoid an accident.

As for the 'well I've got music in the car' argument, my car is so isolated from the outside world that mirrors are essential, as is using them, I rarely hear any other traffic.

beardy
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby beardy » 22 Jul 2014, 1:44pm

Actually even the fact that there is a vehicle in the vicinity is important information that helps us avoid an accident.


This seems obvious until you ask why this is so.

Bicycler
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby Bicycler » 22 Jul 2014, 1:52pm

RichardPH wrote:As for the 'well I've got music in the car' argument, my car is so isolated from the outside world that mirrors are essential, as is using them, I rarely hear any other traffic.

So rather than relying on hearing you are relying on observation. Seems to work perfectly fine for you. A bicycle is not lumbered with the obstructive pillars and mirror blind spots of a car. You can of course get mirrors for your bicycle if you find looking round is too burdensome. There are also other non motorised road users so hearing can never be an adequate replacement for observation. This is going to be more and more the case as electric cars become more popular

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yakdiver
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby yakdiver » 22 Jul 2014, 2:17pm

On very quiet roads I have in the past have used headphones, but I also have a mirror and I use to find that while listening to music I was more observant constantly looking at my mirror.
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kwackers
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby kwackers » 22 Jul 2014, 2:20pm

RichardPH wrote:But in answer to the central question, wearing headphones whilst riding a bicycle, if you do this you're halfway to membership of the Darwin club. The attitude of the driver approaching unseen can be read by the noise of the engine and the rate at which it's getting louder, all clues to staying alive on a bike. Actually even the fact that there is a vehicle in the vicinity is important information that helps us avoid an accident.

I'd be lying if I sad I hadn't been take by surprise and 'jumped' at the occasional passing vehicle (and I don't wear headphones).
I guess if I did wear them then I'd be used to cars that manage to silently steal up on me.
All it takes is the wind in the wrong direction or an unusually quiet car (particularly with narrow, low noise tyres).

I'm afraid I think "halfway to membership of the Darwin club" is nonsense. In my experience by the time you're aware something is wrong it's pretty much going to be too late - either that or you're going to spend most of your time pre-emptively jumping into bushes or swerving out of the way.

A car accelerating hard behind you means very little since if nothing else they're much more likely to be looking where they're going. If you're going to get taken out it'll be by some fool who's tootling along texting their mates.

Ayesha
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby Ayesha » 22 Jul 2014, 3:19pm

How many city cyclists buy CDs of birdsong?

RichardPH
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby RichardPH » 22 Jul 2014, 3:22pm

Bicycler wrote:
RichardPH wrote:As for the 'well I've got music in the car' argument, my car is so isolated from the outside world that mirrors are essential, as is using them, I rarely hear any other traffic.

So rather than relying on hearing you are relying on observation. Seems to work perfectly fine for you. A bicycle is not lumbered with the obstructive pillars and mirror blind spots of a car. You can of course get mirrors for your bicycle if you find looking round is too burdensome. There are also other non motorised road users so hearing can never be an adequate replacement for observation. This is going to be more and more the case as electric cars become more popular


Well, yes, vehicles are going to get quieter, unless of course there is a mandatory electric vehicle 'noise generator' as has been mooting, but in the meantime staying safe is about all the senses, particularly hearing for things coming from behind.. Have you ever noticed how distracting a conversation being held behind you can be? We hear things to the rear of us for a very good evolutionary reason.

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Vantage
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby Vantage » 22 Jul 2014, 3:27pm

Would this be a case of headphone use being dangerous or the cyclist just basically not paying enough attention to what she was doing?
Sometimes I wear headphones, sometimes I don't and tbh I haven't noticed any difference to how I ride either way. I do however get less jittery about the odd plonker who races past screaming the living bells out of his/her engine.
It's also worth noting that mp3 players and other sound emitting devices (phones and so on) have a volume control and the level at which one listens to ones music/audiobook/whatever can't really be determined by anyone other than the listener. I can quite easily listen to my music while still being able to hear everything around me. I do have an issue with those few who have it so loud that they can't hear an ambulances siren as it tries to get through and unable to do so because some eejit didn't hear it and move out of the way.
Anyone is capable of daydreaming and not paying enough attention whether they're listening to music or not.
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kwackers
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby kwackers » 22 Jul 2014, 3:28pm

RichardPH wrote:Well, yes, vehicles are going to get quieter, unless of course there is a mandatory electric vehicle 'noise generator' as has been mooting, but in the meantime staying safe is about all the senses, particularly hearing for things coming from behind.. Have you ever noticed how distracting a conversation being held behind you can be? We hear things to the rear of us for a very good evolutionary reason.

Vehicle noise is predominantly tyres these days and has been for a while, engine noise barely figures - unless you're behind the exhaust.

RichardPH
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby RichardPH » 22 Jul 2014, 3:39pm

kwackers wrote:
I'm afraid I think "halfway to membership of the Darwin club" is nonsense. In my experience by the time you're aware something is wrong it's pretty much going to be too late - either that or you're going to spend most of your time pre-emptively jumping into bushes or swerving out of the way.


I guess road sense is just instinctive, never given it too much thought. I've always described the fact that a vehicle has never so much as touched me on the road as luck, but over 50 years of riding that can't be the whole story can it? You make your own luck and depriving yourself of the one sense that will warn you of the presence of 99.9% of motor vehicles does indeed seem Darwinian

kwackers wrote:A car accelerating hard behind you means very little since if nothing else they're much more likely to be looking where they're going. If you're going to get taken out it'll be by some fool who's tootling along texting their mates.


Or fiddling with their infotainment systems, my car has one and I've taken to stopping to do anything complicated/new with it. Have to comment that if you think a car accelerating hard behind isn't reason for you to be alert, then you may be in for a shock one day.

beardy
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby beardy » 22 Jul 2014, 3:57pm

I've always described the fact that a vehicle has never so much as touched me on the road as luck, but over 50 years of riding that can't be the whole story can it?


No it isnt just luck (though of course there is always some luck involved of not being totally in the wrong place at the wrong time) you obviously know how to keep your wits about you and avoid accidents.

However have you actually ever tried riding with a walkman on?
Do you ever wear a walkman?

Obviously nobody can come and type that they have 50 years of accident free riding while wearing a walkman. :lol:

There are plenty of things that others can tolerate or get benefit from that distract or incapacitate me.

kwackers
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Re: Wearing earphones

Postby kwackers » 22 Jul 2014, 4:03pm

RichardPH wrote:depriving yourself of the one sense that will warn you of the presence of 99.9% of motor vehicles does indeed seem Darwinian

Except it isn't 99.9%. If the wind is blowing in the wrong direction (particularly if you're wearing a helmet) then you'll be lucky to hear any.
Not only that but for most of my riding I'm being overtaken continually by nose to tail cars - what benefit is there in hearing them coming? I already know there's another one on the way.
Personally for the most part I rely on my mirrors but even then in heavy traffic they're not really that much use, eyes are usually better off looking ahead to see what the idiot who's just overtaken is up to.

There's no denying 50 years without an accident is impressive but I wonder under what conditions. How much of that is during rush hour on busy roads, what sort of mileage etc etc.
IME riding on busy roads during rush hour you'd really be relying on luck to do any real mileage and never have at least the occasional minor incident.

RichardPH wrote:Or fiddling with their infotainment systems, my car has one and I've taken to stopping to do anything complicated/new with it. Have to comment that if you think a car accelerating hard behind isn't reason for you to be alert, then you may be in for a shock one day.

Nobody accelerates hard whilst tuning their radio. When someone decides to cane it their attention becomes focuses forward. In all the years I've been riding I've never even had a close pass by someone nailing it - they've always left loads of space.
When I have made contact it's usually by people who knew I was there and conversely who I knew were there. Like the guy that cut me up on a roundabout and knocked me off claiming he thought my flashing rear light meant I was turning off or the woman who started overtaking and then moved left knocking me off coming up to some lights because 'I was in the middle of the road', or the guy who happily sailed onto the island as I passed the entrance he was on.

To be fair I could have avoided all of the above by riding on the pavement so rather than worry about listening to music perhaps the real question I should ask myself is where I should be doing my riding.