Wearing headphones and listening to music while riding is one of those topics that divide the cycling community. For some, the thought of restricting one of the key senses we employ to alert us of hazards is a complete no-no. Others simply enjoy listening to music when they are on solo rides or training sessions. Rider safety seems to be the main reason behind any talk of banning or restricting the use of headphones. So, the real question is it safe to use headphones while cycling? Just like your first time riding a bicycle, I bet most of you can remember the first time you put on headphones or plugged-in earbuds. Mixing those admirable traits with bicycle riding doesn’t work, though. Here’s why.
Hearing traffic keeps you aware of your surroundings. With very little practice it’s easy to gauge if a small car or massive truck is about to overtake you.
While certainly a bigger issue on the road than in the woods, hearing is also imperative on mountain bike rides. Listening to your bicycle can often allow you to catch small problems before they become large disasters. The safety part goes double if for some crazy reason your headphones aren’t earbuds, but rather over-the-ear style headphones instead of a helmet. Don’t be that guy rolling around in full-coverage headphones and no helmet. Just don’t.
Whether on a trail, multi-use path, or road, a major part of respect is acknowledging others’ presence. When you remove one of your most important senses, respect goes right out the door. I can’t count the number of people that were innocently spooked simply because they had headphones in their ears and didn’t hear my bell.
Decreased in-town riding performance
It boils down to focus. While you still have your eyes, research has shown that headphones can distract your brain, which is about the last thing you should want when sharing the road with the metal monster that weighs 20X your weight or dodging trees through the forest.
If you use headphones to drown out the outside world, chances are you have them cranked up decently loud. Research has found hearing damage begins around 85 decibels, and most media players hit that number at 75% volume.
It’s not necessary
Water, air, food: these things are necessary. Music, news, and audiobooks, not so much. Are your tunes or shutting out society so important that you want to remove what is arguably one of your most important senses? So, unless you’re riding on private roads or land and are certain no one will be out there, take out the headphones when riding. Enjoy your ride first, then enjoy the music later. People who are deaf can ride perfectly safely while on the road. Many cyclists find a good podcast or playlist is the perfect way to push through solo workouts, but some say riding with headphones is unsafe. It is possible to cycle safely with headphones, once the cyclist is sure they are still aware of their surroundings. It’s best to use all your senses while riding a bicycle.
Music as a motivator
Listening has been proven to improve performance in some cases. Even if you’re not seeing a performance benefit, if you get the playlist right it can marginally reduce your perceived exertion. For many, listening to music makes the workout feel easier, goes by faster, and leaves them feeling less mentally drained by the end of it.
Although music may help in some ways, it could have a detrimental effect on safety. Listening to music while cycling worsens auditory perception, in particular, if in-ear buds are used. Although high-tempo music is good for improving performance, it increases the likelihood of missing auditory queues (in this study a loud “stop” signal).
Technology is evolving, but not always in ways that are safer for cyclists. Noise-canceling headphones continue to grow in popularity, but they aren’t the best choice for those looking to be aware of their surroundings. Electric cars, which generate hardly any sound compared to standard vehicles, are becoming more common. Riders listening to loud music are also at a higher risk of not hearing electric cars, particularly when the cars are moving at lower speeds.
How to listen to music safely
If you still plan on listening to music while you ride, there are strategies to do so in a safer manner. You can also listen to music using only one earbud. The risk of not hearing auditory signals can also be reduced by lowering the volume of the music. Some headphones are safer for cycling than others. Noise-canceling is never a good option when you’re looking to be aware of your surroundings.
Finally, plan a playlist so you don’t have to use your phone while biking. Think about where you’ll be riding. Are you riding on a barely used gravel road or are you navigating the streets of a major city? If you’re in the latter situation, consider taking off the headphones. Your perfectly curated ride playlist will probably be better enjoyed without the interruptions of the city soundscape anyways.
Cycling is a Heart Healthy Hobby
Cycling is a heart-healthy hobby that promotes brain activity and goes gentle on the environment as well. It is a really fun outdoor activity that also helps in the stimulation of the senses. Unlike running and swimming, cyclists can ride in groups and have good conversations with fellow riders. Cycling can also be practiced all year long and isn’t restricted to any particular season. Cycling acts as an excellent recreational activity and is a great overall activity to maintain fitness and mental well-being. It is good to ride safely, instead of headphones, bicycle riders can see nature and trails. Observe the surroundings.
Sanrocycles provide bicycles for rent in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. You can also book a bicycle online and rent a bicycle. Online bicycle store in Pune from which you can book a bicycle at a reasonable price.
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