TfL said to have approached researchers over headphones and cyclist safety

Dutch study has found that listening to music "reduced visual and auditory perception"

by Simon_MacMichael   November 21, 2013  

Cyclist with headphones (cc licensed by Adrian Midgley on Flickr)

Transport for London (TfL) is reported to have approached an institution in London to conduct research regarding the effect of wearing headphones on the safety of cyclists. Earlier this week, the city’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, said banning headphones was one option being considered following the death of six cyclists in the city.

The Independent quotes an unnamed source as saying: "I know for a fact that a research institution has been approached by TFL to ascertain if wearing headphones has an impact on cyclists' reaction times.

“They need this research because they don't know if it does, there is just some indicative evidence."

The newspaper says that TfL declined to confirm whether it had made such an approach.

On Tuesday, in an interview with BBC Radio London’s Vanessa Feltz regarding those recent fatalities and cycle safety in general, Mr Johnson said: "I'm very alarmed about cyclists wearing headphones. I would not be against a prohibition or ban on cyclists wearing headphones.

“Call me illiberal but it makes me absolutely terrified to see them bowling along unable to hear the traffic."

Mr Johnson’s remarks saw him come under heavy criticism from cycling campaigners, who said he should be focusing instead on issues such as infrastructure including junction design, as well as a potential rush-hour ban on lorries, involved in a disproportionate number of cyclist fatalities in London, including three this month.

It is a topic he had previously discussed in a Mayor’s Question Time exchange with the Green Party’s Jenny Jones in 2011, when she asked him about pedestrian casualties in London.

He said: “I am afraid I see too many cyclists with iPods, earphones in both ears, which I think is wrong. I do not agree with that. I am worried.

“Speaking as one who cycles all over London, I see a lot of people using handhelds, using BlackBerry devices and not paying proper attention to the road.”

In the wake of Mr Johnson's comments this week, Mike Cavenett of the London Cycling Campaign told the BBC: "I'd like to know what kind of evidence base the mayor is using. I'm not aware of a single fatality where headphones were implicated."

It is an issue that divides cyclists, as can be seen in the comments to our story on Tuesday about Mr Johnson’s remarks.

The Independent says that there is no evidence that bans on wearing headphones in Quebec or Florida has reduced the number of cyclists killed there.

But it says that research published in 2011 in the journal Transportation Research by academics from the University of Groningen found that "listening to music resulted in reduced visual and auditory perception and reduced speed" and may also reduce the rider’s stability.

The study concluded: "Negative effects are very large when in-earbuds are used. Negative effects of high volume and fast tempo on auditory perception were found.”

However, it added: “No negative effects were found when listening to music using only one earbud."

It is unclear whether the wearing of earphones is thought to be a factor in any of the incidents that have resulted in cyclists in London being killed or seriously injured this month.

The issue of listening to music played a role in the death of a cyclist is at times a point of focus in coroner’s inquiries and court cases.

In 2010, following the death of 29-year-old Amber Mattingley in Southampton, her mother said that she argued with her daughter about the danger of listening to music while riding her bike. The cyclist died when she rode into the back of a lorry trailer, with a coroner recording a verdict of accidental death.

Earlier this year, a coroner’s inquest into the death of 34-year-old Phil Dawn near Mansfield, killed by a train on a level crossing, was told that he was unlikely to have heard the train approaching or the warning shouts of passers-by.

In August 2010 a report from the AA highlighted what the organisation called “iPod oblivion,” which it described as “a trance-like or Zombie state entered by some people using MP3 players, phones and electronic organisers on the move.”

AA President Edmund King said at the time: "We can't stop the march of technology but we need to halt the 'iPod pedestrian, cycle and driver zombies'. Whether on two feet, two wheels or four, too many people are suffering from so-called 'iPod oblivion'.

He added: "When on the move our brains have much to take in and using technological gadgets means that our brains can't always concentrate on so many things at once. This is when we walk into traffic, don't hear the truck or drive cocooned from the outside world."

64 user comments

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northstar wrote:
Just diversion tactics, cycling with headphones is 100% safe, fight this rubbish.

Really?!

I don't agree with a ban. And, I agree that the mayor's statements are, probably, diversionary. But, to say wearing headphones is 100% safe is a little off target.

posted by Jimbonic [90 posts]
21st November 2013 - 14:23

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spatuluk wrote:
I wear ear bud headphones while cycling, and it doesn't affect my perception or ability to hear traffic, but I don't have them turned up very loud. I also don't like listening to loud music in the car, because it's disorientating and makes me feel too removed from reality. Kinda like the feeling you get when you cover one eye and lose depth perception.

So, from my perspective, the problem isn't the headphones - it's the volume of the headphones.

The issue affects pedestrians, too, and you can see the proof from pedestrians who aren't even listening to ipods. When crossing a road, they use their ears first, and look second. If they don't hear anything, they'll often step into the road without even bothering to look, which is a bit of a bugger if there's a bicycle coming (or an electric car, a few years into the future). With headphones in, people have a higher chance of not looking.

So, on one hand you say they have no effect. Then, on the other they are a danger.

Hmmmm

posted by Jimbonic [90 posts]
21st November 2013 - 14:25

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mikem22 wrote:
Aren't we, as cyclists, in danger of being a little childish about this with all the 'Nevermind us, look what they are doing' attitude?

I'm a cyclist and a driver. I never wear earphones on my bike, whether that's on a commute, a weekend ride, a sportive or on the track. I don't have headphones on in the car either but I do play music using the car stereo.

The reason I wouldn't wear headphones is that they remove an important sense and you end up effectively handing over a large proportion of responsibility for your own safety to other road users. Given how much we like to moan about what other road users do, I don't see why any cyclist would want to do this.

Personally, I don't see any benefit to my dying thought, as I lay under some vehicle, being 'Well, I think you'll find that I was in the right there' when I could have taken some steps to improve my safety and mitigate the risks of being hit.

With regard to the radio debate, the simple fact is that in a car I am less exposed to sound and less reliant on my ears. Apart from having a sound insulation box around me I also have the engine and road noise dulling this sense. Because of the effect of the enclosed nature, It is also harder to gauge the direction a sound is coming from. I do though have three mirrors pointing behind me meaning that I will be using visual cues much more than sound.

The radio, at a normal volume, still allows you to pick up on important sounds that earphones filter out.

And, also, in a car or other motorised vehicle, you are not victim of high relative closing speeds from behind. As you also say, you probably don't have mirrors on your bike either. So, you would have to look behind you frequently, distracting yourself from avoiding all the other hazards presenting themselves in front of you.

posted by Jimbonic [90 posts]
21st November 2013 - 14:27

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I look forward to the re-introduction of compulsory open-topped cars for motorists in order to aid them in awareness on the roads. After all, the death rate for motorists is shockingly high.

posted by Ush [357 posts]
21st November 2013 - 14:54

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When they can stop drivers using mobiles and eating breakfast whilst driving I shall worry about cyclists wearing earphones.

posted by Leodis [120 posts]
21st November 2013 - 14:59

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B.t.w. re the effects of music on car drivers:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130606101550.htm

I haven't read the published papers, just this summary, so I don't know what power the study had, but the conclusion seems roughly to be that music in cars is not a detriment to concentrating on the road.

posted by Ush [357 posts]
21st November 2013 - 15:01

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If you're riding solo it probably makes little difference to safety, though it insulates you from your surroundings, making cycling more like being in a car, bus, or tube train.

If you're riding in a group it's very bad manners and other members will rightly ask you to take your headphones off.

What people do in cars is irrelevant to this particular argument.

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posted by harman_mogul [88 posts]
21st November 2013 - 15:02

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Quote:
Is TfL also looking at banning hands free mobiles in vehicles, as recommended by charity Brake?

Indeed, in fact a hands free kit was involved in the collision with Mary Bowers that kick started The Times campaign....

"Beiu was giving directions on a hands-free phone to a colleague and failed to spot Ms Bowers despite her being "in direct sight" through his windscreen for at least 10 seconds before pulling away and turning left across her path.

He jumped from his cab after hearing "bloodcurdling" screams but forgot to apply the handbrake allowing the lorry to continue rolling over Ms Bowers.

He even failed to realise there was a cycle lane on his near side, the court was told.

Beiu also lied to the police by claiming he had not been on the phone at the time of the collision."

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/2700-fine-is-an-insult-says-father-...

posted by ribena [118 posts]
21st November 2013 - 15:16

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You are a fool if you believe you are as safe cycling with headphones as without. Why would anyone in their right mind want to risk reducing the effectiveness of one of the key senses that can make you aware of danger, with some transient tune.

John
North London

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posted by jeffrejo [2 posts]
21st November 2013 - 15:24

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I suspect that cycling Bejing a more physical activity than driving needs more faculties. Watching the road ahead and other users isn't the same as doing both + pedallIng and balancing AND listening to
music as well. It's more an issue than not being able to hear cars approaching. In the week when some company invented a coffee cup holder for bikes - I kind you not - the fewer distractions the better!

The number of people that step out into the road without looking because they hear no cars approaching suggests that all the senses should be fully engaged. Barring taste of course... Wink

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [933 posts]
21st November 2013 - 15:34

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mikem22 wrote:
Aren't we, as cyclists, in danger of being a little childish about this with all the 'Nevermind us, look what they are doing' attitude?

I'm a cyclist and a driver. I never wear earphones on my bike, whether that's on a commute, a weekend ride, a sportive or on the track. I don't have headphones on in the car either but I do play music using the car stereo.

I would say that makes you a mite hypocritical, to be honest.

For one thing, choosing to drive a car _at all_ (with or without the stereo) involves choosing to create a risk (and for others, not just yourself). Why is your choice to create that risk acceptable but the (alleged) risk of having headphones while cycling not?
And the very fact that the car blocks out external noise is surely the point? Why is it OK for cars to do that but not for headphones to do it?
(I grant there's possibly something in the point about mirrors compensating for lack of aural awareness)

I'm consistent, myself. I don't wear headphones while cycling (on the road, anyway) and I don't drive a car. You seem to be OK with engaging in one kind of risky behaviour while reproaching others for doing the other.

mikem22 wrote:

The reason I wouldn't wear headphones is that they remove an important sense and you end up effectively handing over a large proportion of responsibility for your own safety to other road users.

Well, to a significant degree the threat to your safety is _created_ by those 'other road users', so why should they _not_ take much of the responsibility?

I find pedestrians crossing the road with their backs to the traffic and headphones in to be very annoying - but I still regard it as my responsibility to avoid them, as its me who is creating the threat.

I dunno, to be honest, as to exactly how far to take this, but it irks me slightly, the notion that cyclists' safety should automatically be entirely their responsibility, when its motorists that create the danger.

mikem22 wrote:

Personally, I don't see any benefit to my dying thought, as I lay under some vehicle, being 'Well, I think you'll find that I was in the right there' when I could have taken some steps to improve my safety and mitigate the risks of being hit.

Which is an excellent argument for each individual to decide to take what precautions they think appropriate - indeed, its why I don't wear headphones on the road myself. Its not an argument for making those precautions legally obligatory, is it? (I can't tell if that's what you are arguing for or not, mind you).

For a long time the argument you give here was my reason for not cycling at all. Why is it OK for one to cycle at all, if the most important thing is to take full responsibility for avoiding all possible risks from other people's carelessness?

Its somewhat arbitrary as to how far to take your argument here, and to decide at what point one HAS to expect others to exercise some basic care for your safety. Otherwise you would never leave your house.

mikem22 wrote:

With regard to the radio debate, the simple fact is that in a car I am less exposed to sound and less reliant on my ears. Apart from having a sound insulation box around me I also have the engine and road noise dulling this sense. Because of the effect of the enclosed nature, It is also harder to gauge the direction a sound is coming from. I do though have three mirrors pointing behind me meaning that I will be using visual cues much more than sound.

The radio, at a normal volume, still allows you to pick up on important sounds that earphones filter out.

Though it could perhaps distract you, mentally.

Really the only point of yours here I think has merit is the one about mirrors, but I'm not sure if that isn't cancelled out by the fact that a cyclist has much greater all-round visibility.

edit - oh yeah, I also see merit in the point someone made that cyclists are more likely to have someone coming up at speed behind them. Maybe that's a significant difference.

On the whole I think there's still a double-standard here. Why should cyclists be expected to have complete aural awareness while motorists are not?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [503 posts]
21st November 2013 - 15:45

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Huw Watkins wrote:
Safe? Is it bo11ocks!

There is no single solution to any of this. There are lots of initiatives that will go into making roads safer for everyone - not just cyclists (1,900 pedestrians killed last year)

Just because this one isn't top of the list doesn't make it invalid.

As for saying it's 100% safe. Jesus Christ…...

You can drown on a teaspoon of water. You can fall down the stairs and break your neck. You could have anaphylactic shock from eating nuts, or a bee sting.

Nothing is "100% safe" but talking about banning people wearing headphones whilst there is a clear and present danger on our streets from HGVs and the pollution caused congestion and overuse of cars, is fallacious, disingenuous and a callous case of misdirection.

posted by zanf [380 posts]
21st November 2013 - 16:07

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Was always told in the Forces to avoid using the hood on various bits of kit, in order to preserve hearing in dangerous situations. (Don't know why the kit included them, half the time)

Was always advised in martial arts classes to avoid hoods or headphones when in environments you can't trust as safe. You should be able to feel safe that some idiot isn't going to surprise you from behind in order to rob you, but you can't. Sooo, you take appropriate mitigating actions.

I'm not victim-blaming, I'm acknowledging that there are sufficient pricks out there to make a victim of the vulnerable, that defensive measures may be wise. This is, of course, your choice.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
21st November 2013 - 16:42

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I think the stuff about deaf cyclists and car stereos are red herrings. Using the roads in a car is a long way from using them on a bike so I don't see it's a meaningful comparison. On a bike you need to be alert to hazards that drivers generally don't, for example people accelerating past you to try and pass you before a traffic island. IMO drivers can afford to be less reliant on their hearing because other drivers rarely put them on the spot from behind the way they frequently do to cyclists, they have lots of mirrors, and they're wrapped up in a big metal box so they are far less likely to be seriously injured if it does happen.

And yes, deaf people can cycle perfectly well, but I'm not sure what that has to do with whether or not your hearing is a useful bit of equipment on the roads.

But the facts seem to be that the whole cycling-with-headphones thing is a red herring. If it's not shown to be a contributing factor in any of these incidents then it's disingenuous of Johnson to use it to try and deflect attention away from the real issues.

posted by Chuck [294 posts]
21st November 2013 - 16:54

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Baa Baa.

posted by northstar [937 posts]
21st November 2013 - 17:15

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Totally opposed to compulsion, you want to listen to music while riding fine, you choose not to wear a helmet fine also. But your two best bits of safety kit money can't buy are your eyes and your ears. How you use 'em is up to you.

Oh, and being seen when it's a dark is also a good one. Lights do that quite well (around 50% of cyclists I see don't have lights that work or at all).

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posted by dullard [140 posts]
21st November 2013 - 17:15

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
For one thing, choosing to drive a car _at all_ (with or without the stereo) involves choosing to create a risk (and for others, not just yourself). Why is your choice to create that risk acceptable but the (alleged) risk of having headphones while cycling not?

By that argument, all modes of transport creates risk for someone else, including bikes as these create risk for pedestrians. In fact, extrapolating that to it's logical conclusion, only walking everywhere is the only safe form of getting from A to B. Also, I only find wearing headphone personally unacceptable and find it difficult to understand why any cyclist would want to. If cyclists want to increase risk to themselves by wearing them then they are free to.. though bear in mind, using your own argument, this is also increasing risk for pedestrians too?

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
And the very fact that the car blocks out external noise is surely the point? Why is it OK for cars to do that but not for headphones to do it?

You seem to be OK with engaging in one kind of risky behaviour while reproaching others for doing the other.

My point here was that comparatively, sound is more important to the relative safety of a cyclist (and pedestrian) than it is to a driver of a car because of the make up of the vehicles.. one being a fast, semi-sound proof box with mirrors and the other being a slow open vehicle with a more cumbersome mechanism for checking what is happening behind.

I'm reproaching nobody, I merely stated that I can't understand why anyone would want to remove or reduce one sense when using the road. I don't use headphones on a bike just as I wouldn't drive out from home with a misted or iced windows. Nor would I drive a car without mirrors. I don't understand why anyone would want to do any of those things as they all increase risk.

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Well, to a significant degree the threat to your safety is _created_ by those 'other road users', so why should they _not_ take much of the responsibility?

I firmly believe that we are all better off doing as much as possible to ensure our own and other road users safety, regardless of the mode of transport. For most it is not an Us and Them argument as many cyclists are also drivers and therefore. Every journey, regardless of the mode, we should be doing all we can to minimise risk to ourselves and others?

In an ideal world we could all travel around in our own little bubble relying on everyone else avoiding us. But the fact is that there are bad road users out there or ones who make a single mistake.. or even ones that have some kind of sudden medical emergency at the wheel and if they are near me at the time I would want all of the appropriate senses to my mode of transport (whether I'm in the car, on foot or on a bike) serving me as best as they could.

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Its not an argument for making those precautions legally obligatory, is it? (I can't tell if that's what you are arguing for or not, mind you).

I would never ask anyone I saw on a cycle to remove headphones. It's up to them, After over 25 years of cycling, I just don't understand it, that's all. And if you read all of the threads above there is not one single good argument for riding with them in as far as I can see. The respondents who do are generally saying 'Yeah I do but what about the crazy stuff drivers do'. Neither can we point to deaf people. I can tell you, by the nature of their handicap they DO feel more at risk riding bikes in traffic.

I don't think that this should end up as law, I would hate that it did in fact. My point was more that we just can't point at the car drivers screaming 'What about them?' whenever some debate about safe cycling is started.

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

For a long time the argument you give here was my reason for not cycling at all. Why is it OK for one to cycle at all, if the most important thing is to take full responsibility for avoiding all possible risks from other people's carelessness?

I'm glad you took to your bike and I'm also happy that you don't wear your headphones as I believe this is one small measure that makes cycling the roads safer for you. I don't think it is ONLY cyclists responsibility for avoiding risk. I think EVERYONE on the highways should take equal responsibility for each other.

Unfortunately, until laws that go some way to sharing this responsibility out (such as Strict Liability) are introduced t, it is a sad fact that cyclists have a greater vested interest in their own safety as they are the ones that come off worse in any incident and it is the driver that usually walks away without any action against them. Yes it is maddening but I'd rather by maddened and alive than dead.

posted by mikem22 [10 posts]
21st November 2013 - 17:53

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Headphones is an argument that forced me to find my log in to this site for the first time in years.

My take... as with all things, headphone use is entirely safe, if common sense is used.

By that I mean, if you can't hear whats behind you, you have to look before making a maneuver. As long as you do that, then where is the harm?

When listening to whats coming up behind you without phone, before you could pick up danger it is too late to react anyway.

Now someones comment about turning your head to look behind you is dangerous because it distracts you from things happening in front of you... now that's just daft, absolutely daft.

1. you simply can't rely purely on hearing to judge what's happening behind... there is a reason motorcyclists call it the 'life saver' look. By the way, motorcyclists are all but deaf to their environment when riding, but seem to do fine.

2. by making that statement, you are condemning common driving methods used by every driver on the road today...

The main point I want to make is that I don't understand the argument that with headphones on you are suddenly totally deaf. I sometimes do, sometimes don't, however when I am phoned up I can still hear cars coming from behind. To block that sound out, you'd need the volume up so loud your ears bleed.

I am sure there are idiots that do that, as I am sure that there are idiots that don't look behind them when cycling... however it is the idiot that is the problem, not the headphones.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [99 posts]
21st November 2013 - 18:12

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mikem22 wrote:
My point was more that we just can't point at the car drivers screaming 'What about them?' whenever some debate about safe cycling is started.

It's not a debate about safe cycling. It's a debate about whether or not a new restriction should be imposed on cyclists.

The stated objective is to improve some aspect of cycling safety. The underlying motivation is, for at least a significant proportion of the population, to just to impose yet more onerous restrictions on our free use of the roads.

If, as in the case of head injuries and hearing awareness, a measure of dubious value is proposed then it's a useful tactic to point out that the same restriction should be imposed on other road users who might also benefit (or not).

Head injuries remain high in the car driving population. It staggers me that people drive them without 5-point HANS racing harnesses and crash helmets to supplement the inadequate air-bags and crumplezones. Similarly, as we all like common sense and our own experience, it seems obvious to me that microphones should be fitted on the outside of cars with the ambient sounds piped in to loudspeakers (dolby surround naturally) to make drivers aware of their external environment.

Or not.

posted by Ush [357 posts]
21st November 2013 - 18:14

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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:
Headphones is an argument that forced me to find my log in to this site for the first time in years.

My take... as with all things, headphone use is entirely safe, if common sense is used.

By that I mean, if you can't hear whats behind you, you have to look before making a maneuver. As long as you do that, then where is the harm?

When listening to whats coming up behind you without phone, before you could pick up danger it is too late to react anyway.

Now someones comment about turning your head to look behind you is dangerous because it distracts you from things happening in front of you... now that's just daft, absolutely daft.

1. you simply can't rely purely on hearing to judge what's happening behind... there is a reason motorcyclists call it the 'life saver' look. By the way, motorcyclists are all but deaf to their environment when riding, but seem to do fine.

2. by making that statement, you are condemning common driving methods used by every driver on the road today...

The main point I want to make is that I don't understand the argument that with headphones on you are suddenly totally deaf. I sometimes do, sometimes don't, however when I am phoned up I can still hear cars coming from behind. To block that sound out, you'd need the volume up so loud your ears bleed.

I am sure there are idiots that do that, as I am sure that there are idiots that don't look behind them when cycling... however it is the idiot that is the problem, not the headphones.

No.

And, yes.

You should look behind you.

However, the relative closing speed of motorised traffic is such that, unlike when on a motorcycle or in a car, you need to be constantly making "life saver" checks, if you are to maintain the same awareness as you would without listening.

Let's take the motorcycle example. If you see a hazard, the chances are that you will have made a visual check both in your mirrors and over your shoulder in the fairly recent past. So another "life saver" at a fair distance from that hazard will give you plenty of time to make a safe manouevre around the hazard. Also, bear in mind that potholes and stones are less of a hazard for a motorcyclist and it is very unlikely that another vehicle (except maybe another motorcycle) will be overtaking you (close by). I'm not talking about overtaking other vehicles here, just avoiding hazards: potholes, car doors, etc.

In the same situation on a bicycle, it IS likely that you will be being overtaken and the closing speed of the traffic behind will be much faster. So, you are much more reliant on your ears to fill in the necessary gaps between your "life savers".

So far from being daft, I believe having both sight and hearing available to you is very important for your safety.

Having said all of that I totally agree with those comments on here that this debate is somewhat of a red herring, in that it is a diversionary Boris-ism, ie there's a cock-up in the system and the easiest way to tackle it is to propose an idea that is far removed from the real issue of infrastructure and driver / cyclist training.

posted by Jimbonic [90 posts]
21st November 2013 - 18:35

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It is safe to cycle with earphones in Malmo and Amsterdam and Bordeaux and all the other places.

Stop the spin Boris and get it fixed!

posted by vbvb [166 posts]
21st November 2013 - 18:56

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Jimbonic wrote:
northstar wrote:
Just diversion tactics, cycling with headphones is 100% safe, fight this rubbish.

Really?!

I don't agree with a ban. And, I agree that the mayor's statements are, probably, diversionary. But, to say wearing headphones is 100% safe is a little off target.

Nope, prove to me it isn't but I know you won't be able too, so many shrills.

posted by northstar [937 posts]
21st November 2013 - 22:20

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If TFL wants to do research, they could research why many taxi drivers think 6 inches is an acceptable distance to pass a bike, even when there is plenty of room. (I remonstrated with one a couple of days ago for doing this - not the first time either.. perhaps six+ times now). Private and hospital minibus drivers also seem to have shitty anti-cyclist driving habits.

They could research ways to change cars to make drivers look properly when exiting side roads, roundabouts, parking spaces, etc.

Because this earphone BS is not useful to anyone and a complete waste of public money and stinks of victim blaming once again.

posted by kie7077 [354 posts]
21st November 2013 - 23:15

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In other news, government considers making it law that"all women must wear a chastity belt to prevent rape".

yet again we are seeing tfl/government focusing on th victim instead of th killers.
do we actually know if any of the recent deaths were attributed to cyclists wearing headphones that effected their hearing?

Feel the fear and do it anyway

hood's picture

posted by hood [99 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 20:56

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I have worn my MP3 player but stopped because of my perceived lack of ambient sound.

I am not for banning it any more than I am in favour of enforcing Reflective Hi-Viz and Helmets.

I believe the governement should run an extensive campaign advising cyclists what is recommended to wear or not and why. The 'why' should be based on properly researched evidence and not merely uncorroborated opinion. Also the campaign should target lorry and car drivers to advise on better cycling-friendly driving practises.

More public information films for drivers and cyclitsts alike would be very helpful. Unfortunately, Thatcher's Children pulled the plug on the Central Office of Information after years of poor funding not long ago and now we have a generation of ignorant people who have no idea why wearing a helmet or hi-viz might be a good idea.

posted by BigBear63 [59 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 20:56

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I wear an ear bud in my left ear. Doesn't impair my cycling one bit.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

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posted by hood [99 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 21:21

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Here we go again. The presumption that a safety requirement that doesn't apply to motorists therefore shouldn't apply to cyclists.
I'd go so far as to say that when cycling my first awareness of approaching traffic, particularly from the rear, is my hearing, secondly looking and, hopefully, there's no need to feel, taste or smell.
Restating the obvious, in an incident, the cyclist invariably comes off worse.
Each individual makes their own judgement, however if that judgement reduces awareness don't shirk away from a shared responsibility.
Is it really such an issue not to wear headphones for the duration of a ride, it could just make you safer.

posted by Posh [46 posts]
25th November 2013 - 13:54

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This is very clearly a tatic to divert attention away from the real issues. TfL have made the stark realisation that the solutions to the problems with London's roads can't be fixed without investment that is not available or upsetting the road freight industry (which they won't do). I genuinely think that Boris would like to fix the problems that exist but knows that he will not have the resources to do so or the authority to make meaningfull changes to the way that haulage is carried out in the capital.

On the headphones point specifically, its fair to argue that your awareness is greater without the distraction of music (or talking book/radio play/whatever) and that loud music could block out sounds that you would benefit from hearing. That said I don't subscibe to the idea that we should all do everything possible to preserve our own safety at all costs. If we went down this route we would be riding about in motorcycle leathers and removing our clippless pedals in case we need to put a foot down in a hurry. Car drivers wouldn't even consider compact cars; the only safe option would be a great big Volvo and even then they would need to have roll cages installed and wear fire-retardant suits whilst driving. Even pedestrians would need knee and elbow pads and wrist guards. Forget wearing sandals in summer - open toe shoes are far too dangerous.

I know that we are talking about cycling in the urban environment but to look at the debate from a different perspective lets think about longer distance travel. I can only speak personally but I can't imagine driving for 4-5 hours alone in totally silence (i.e. without the radio on). On this basis if I'm out for a 4-5 hour solo training ride a bit of music wouldn't go amiss. As others have pointed out we can't compare the experience of driving a car with that of riding a bike but in this situation it does seem like a ban would be somewhat unreasonable.

posted by Matt eaton [0 posts]
28th November 2013 - 12:49

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Matt
Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating compulsion, however for most cycle journeys <60 minutes I struggle to believe that people are so hooked on headphones that they can't do without them. The general opinion in this forum is that they DO restrict awareness.
As for the TfL issues, it's going to be many years, if ever, before there's an acceptable level of safe provision for cyclists. In the mean time the first line of defence is our own expertise and practice.......It's the only thing we've got real control over.
In my opinion, the single most effective measure that won't cost a fortune is legislation implementing "Presumed Liability". That will certainly encourage caution from the biggest artic on the road to the bike on the pavement.
Regards
Peter

posted by Posh [46 posts]
30th November 2013 - 12:39

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Presumed Liability

Please consider signing the Government's E-Petition which is calling for for a change in road traffic law to implement a law of presumed liabilty.

Link to E-Petition
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57804

NOTE: It seems that this site inhibits such links. Please type the link into a browser.

Safe and Happy Cycling
Posh

posted by Posh [46 posts]
6th December 2013 - 12:16

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