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Earphone ban is among a raft of changes to transportation law, including those aimed at pedicabs and e-bikes

Cycling with earphones is now illegal in California – even if there’s no music playing in them.

The new state law, which was introduced on January 1 and also applies to drivers, outlaws  the wearing of earphones, with fines for non-compliance as much as $160.

It has been illegal in the state to wear headphones or earplugs while cycling or driving for several years. However, the new law specifies earphones, making it unlawful to wear a “headset covering, earplugs in, or earphones covering, resting on, or inserted in, both ears, while operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle”.

Would you wear the world's first wireless smart earphone?

Technically it is still legal to wear an earphone in one ear, while those operating construction equipment, or emergency vehicles are exempt, as are hearing aid users.

A similar scheme was proposed for the UK by one disgruntled Lord early last year who had seen other cyclists riding with earphones on his daily commute to Westminster and feared a risk to their safety. However, campaigners at the time contested the effectiveness of such a law, citing a lack of evidence on the risks of earphones and the purported safety benefits of a ban.

The new Californian law is among a raft of changes to laws affecting transport in the state, including restrictions for pedicabs, which are not allowed to travel in excess of 15mph - the restriction has now been extended to four wheeled pedicabs carrying eight or more people. New classifications of e-bikes have also been introduced, allowing them to use the same paths as non-motorised cycles.

A trial use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs), which require a clean breathalise test before the car will start, has been extended to 2017 for those convicted of previous drink driving offenses.   

22 comments

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robertoegg [112 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I got excited when I read it applied "to drivers, outlaws...."

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Simmo72 [672 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

I wouldn't be upset if it happened here for all road users, but very difficult to enforce.  they can't stop people using phones whilst driving so how are you going to enforce something like this, especially when we seem hell bent on cutting our overstreched police force even further.

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Simmo72 [672 posts] 2 years ago
14 likes

Funny how america are trying to save lives on the road but congress couldn't give a toss about gun control.  bonkers.

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wycombewheeler [1242 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes

since studies have show that a driver with the windows closed can hear less than someone using earphones, i trust the law also obliges drivers to have windows open at all times, and further bans in car stereos.

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Username [229 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
wycombewheeler wrote:

since studies have show that a driver with the windows closed can hear less than someone using earphones, i trust the law also obliges drivers to have windows open at all times, and further bans in car stereos.

 

My car has double glazing - its quietness is one of the reasons I bought it. Will it be banned?

 

I've just upgraded my motorbike helmet to a Schberth C3 mainly because it is the quitest helmet on the market - it really is, I no longer need to wear the custom-fitted earplugs I had been wearing. Will both earplugs and Schberths be banned?

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cdamian [178 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes

Here in Spain it is already illegal. I got caught once and had to pay €120.

I agree with the law though, it is just a shame that it will only be enforced for cyclists.

Nobody is going after cars or motorcycles where the driver is using headphones, mobile, ipad or fullsized newspaper.

 

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forcrz6 [34 posts] 2 years ago
5 likes

So when is it going to be illigal to drive a car with a sound system over 200watts? When is it going to be illigal to have more than 4 speakers in your car? When is it going to be illigal to have a db level of 90+ from your speakers in your car? 

This is the exact same reasoning that you do not allow cyclists to have headphones because they can not hear. Yet you seem to think it is ok for a person in a car with sound deadning matts, 800w 7 +speaker system, GPS Tounch screen navigation, Tounch screen radio, link to text/chat, allowed to eat and drink behind the wheel like they are at a dinner table? Really? This is your logic? how about you apply rules and enforce them to drivers? I mean it's not like drivers ever speed, do rolling stops, stop in cross walks, run redlights, not use turn signals. all while listening to a radio that makes it impossible to hear what is going on around you all while they are eating, drinking and smoking their cigs. Yep it must be the cyclists with the head phone in their ear. How dumb. 

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onthebummel48 [32 posts] 2 years ago
7 likes

Seems a little bit silly really, after all we know people with hearing difficulties can cycle perfectly well. Are they to be banned from cycling then?

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don simon [1702 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes
Quote:

My car has double glazing - its quietness is one of the reasons I bought it. Will it be banned?

Only if you don't use the rear view mirrors.

I wouldn't be bothered if this crossed the water, I've seen too many joggers not acknowledge my bell ringing or shouts and all with ear pieces. You want to wear earpieces, fine go ahead, just make sure that you look behind and are aware of what's happening around you as I'm sure a few are... the majority, in my experience don't.

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belabatnom [24 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

An assumption that all "earpieces" decrease someone's ability to hear, when they don't necessarily. They could have an audio passthrough like the upcoming braagi dash, or be bone conduction like.. those headphones i saw reviewed on here but can't remember the name of. 

 

So whilst indeed they will consume some attention if used they don't have to block sound?

 

The solution I suppose is do what care drivers do and strap a stereo to your handlebars. 

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vbvb [621 posts] 2 years ago
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don simon wrote:

I wouldn't be bothered if this crossed the water...   ...wear earpieces, fine go ahead, just make sure that you look behind

Good news! That's already the UK legal position.

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MichaelAlbany [1 post] 2 years ago
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Simmo72 wrote:

Funny how america are trying to save lives on the road but congress couldn't give a toss about gun control.  bonkers.

Trust me it is bonkers. I live here in the US (don't hold it against me) and I don't understand most of the micro managing laws. In Philadelphia Pennsylvania it has been against the law to use headphones. Now we all have speakers so we can annoy everyone with our music. 

Oh and it is the law to have bell on your bike too. Don't know anyone who has gotten cited for that yet. But I do know someone who got cited for texting while riding... on a bike trail. 

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brooksby [2781 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes

My car doesn't have a music system or a facebook-reading-internet thingy, so I'll be OK...   3

I don't wear headphones while riding, but I don;'t care if anyone else does as long as they are still paying attention to what's going on around them.

As others have said, if you say that headphones stop you hearing and are therefore dangerous, then you have to ban anyone who is hearing-impaired and you have to legislate for car entertainment systems.  And I cannot see either of those happening any time soon...

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Rupert [193 posts] 2 years ago
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American culture is different to ours. They will gladly ban earphones while cycling but not guns. 

Anyway cycling with earphones surely does increase the vulnerability any cyclist who uses them while riding a bike. So I can understand why the Californian government decided to do this, after all they are the land of the 55 mph speed limit etc. 

Again though the USA is a different country, they for a start don't have the wonderful NHS to put you back together again if you get knocked off. They also may well have different laws of the road to us.

Imagine if you would, you're cycling down the road somewhere in Califonia on a quiet road minding your own business listening to your favourite tunes. A police officer asks you to stop but you don't hear him and carry on riding. Maybe the courts thought it was important in their state that a cyclist can hear orders that are shouted to them in the case of an emergency that either risked their lives or others. 

Are you wondering where my diatribe is going ?

All I am saying is that it is a different country, and although I may feel it is unwise to wear earphones when cycling, I have to say I have done it in the past myselff. Do I think it's a good idea, no. Would I recommend to fellow cyclists that they shouldn't wear earphones when riding, yes. Would I make a law against it, absolutely NOT! 

With regards to my main point though, the USA is not the UK, this following link will show that in the most graphic of way and I urge you not to watch it if you don't want to be upset. It might though make some understand and think about how one decisions can affect other decisions. Yes a bit like me posting this. 

warning graphic content

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfF7NGHsdXU

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hawkinspeter [1199 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

Sounds like a stupid law to me. I wonder if they're extending it to ban deaf people from cycling/driving as well? There's no evidence that I know of (not that I've looked) that shows that deaf people are more dangerous on the roads, so I don't see the problem with wearing headphones as long as you make sure to look around often enough.

I used to wear headphones on some short bike journeys but in the end I'd prefer to have the extra info from my ears about the surroundings.

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SpeshulEd [7 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

Apparently the hearing impaired are no longer allowed to leave their house as well.

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aladdin pain [84 posts] 2 years ago
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Simmo72 wrote:

Funny how america are trying to save lives on the road but congress couldn't give a toss about gun control.  bonkers.

A lot of us who have always lived here are as confused and disgusted by this as you are. 

Years ago I would listen to music on long rides because somehow I pushed myself harder: sound doping.   When I discovered the pleasure of fixating minutely on my pedalstroke, on the hum and feel of a bike applied to a road in pursuit of rhythm like (I'll go ahead and be a giant dork here) My Bloody Valentine picks across strings, I took out the earphones and, if anything, probably became more preoccupied than I had ever been previously. 

This news makes me want to put them back in, though. 

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caaad10 [189 posts] 2 years ago
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God bless the U S of A for their take liberty and fredom, the UK isn't far behind so God bless you (in a compulsary Hi Viz) too. Makes me want to ride with headphones 

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velo-nh [132 posts] 2 years ago
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Like some of the other commenters, I don't see how this is a fair law considering how noise dampened many newer vehicles are.  It also sends an odd message about deaf people bicycling.  Is that illegal since it's the same effect as having ear plugs in?  Heck, if it's windy and you're moving at a decent pace, all you're going to hear is the air rushing by anyway.  I've been tempted to use earplus in conditions like that to protect my hearing.

 

aladdin pain wrote:
Simmo72 wrote:

Funny how america are trying to save lives on the road but congress couldn't give a toss about gun control.  bonkers.

A lot of us who have always lived here are as confused and disgusted by this as you are. 

 

Even more of us here recognize that our Constitution expressly forbids congress from doing anything to infringe on our right to bear arms.  Be disgusted with the criminals, guns themselves don't harm anyone.  Banning our best tool for self-defense doesn't make people safer.  Gun free zones, where nearly all of the mass shootings have occurred, do not make people safer.

 

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Mungecrundle [866 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Cycling with earphones is just dumb. Cars may be sound insulated but they do have mirrors and crumple zones. Few bicycles are as well equipped and personally, whilst I like to think I am aware of the other vehicles around me, I don't cycle along with my head rotating like a lighthouse so a lot of the warning of vehicles approaching from behind is audible. On country roads a courtesy beep before overtaking is quite common, at least on the routes I cycle.

As for evidence, well I think we all know how annoying joggers and walkers wearing headphones can be when they are clearly oblivious of what is going on around them.

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wycombewheeler [1242 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
velo-nh wrote:

 

Even more of us here recognize that our Constitution expressly forbids congress from doing anything to infringe on our right to bear arms. 

there is no risk of the British invading anymore, the right to bear arms is outdated. The constitution has been amended many times, in fact the right to bear arms itself is an amendment. So it could be amended to remove this right. Guns do not make people safer. UK population is about 1/5 of US population, yet there has not been a school shooting here since 1996, despite the fact that the police are not generally armed. How many is the USA?

 

anyway, back to the topic

Mungecrundle wrote:

Cycling with earphones is just dumb. Cars may be sound insulated but they do have mirrors and crumple zones. Few bicycles are as well equipped and personally, whilst I like to think I am aware of the other vehicles around me, I don't cycle along with my head rotating like a lighthouse so a lot of the warning of vehicles approaching from behind is audible. On country roads a courtesy beep before overtaking is quite common, at least on the routes I cycle.

As for evidence, well I think we all know how annoying joggers and walkers wearing headphones can be when they are clearly oblivious of what is going on around them.

crumple zones do not protect people outside the car. Anyway when cycling in busy urban areas there is a steady background road/engine noice, this does not indicate a presence of the car about to close pass you.

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velo-nh [132 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

there is no risk of the British invading anymore, the right to bear arms is outdated. The constitution has been amended many times, in fact the right to bear arms itself is an amendment. So it could be amended to remove this right. Guns do not make people safer. UK population is about 1/5 of US population, yet there has not been a school shooting here since 1996, despite the fact that the police are not generally armed. How many is the USA?

It could be amended, and those in favor of more restrictions should go that route.  But they won't, because the fact is that there are a lot of Americans that are not in favor of further restrictions on guns.  Repealing the 2nd has no chance of actually happening.

In much of the US, the police are not going to arrive in time to protect anyone.  That's if the victims even have time to call 911.  Personal firearms offer people a chance to defend themselves and to defend others.

We had a shop clerk just down the street from where I live pull a handgun during an armed robbery and it very well may have saved his life.  Just the other night after a news story about Obama threatening to violate the Constitution even more, there was a story of a grandmother who fought off an attacker by shooting the guy in the chest with her legally concealed firearm.

Guns absolutely make people safer.  If they didn't, the police wouldn't carry them either.  What we have here is a mental health issue and a general disregard for human life.  Further restrictions on firearms will do nothing to help either problem. 

The best thing the government could do would be to ban gun free zones.  Those are where the slaughters have been happening.  I don't want to see America turned into Paris, where a small number of evil people can kill one hundred and thirty others with no resistance.