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Is listening to music dangerous while cycling?

Is it bad to listen to earphones while commuting? I have a lot of people tell me I shouldn't, but I find when I'm biking without them I completely zone out other audio and I don't even notice other cars.

Is it really that bad to be listening to music while biking? Am I putting myself at risk?

Thank you.

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marked as duplicate by zenbike Jul 7 '12 at 5:00

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Check out this question:… – Benzo Jul 6 '12 at 18:16
My brother got a speaker system for his bike. He said it works pretty good, but that in heavy traffic it's hard to hear. I think this is the one he got.… – Kibbee Jul 6 '12 at 20:40
Your question is a little confusing to me - you've said that this is causing you not to notice cars. Is it not clear that that puts you at risk? – Jefromi Jul 7 '12 at 0:43
Also, you can't use headphones. See rule 62. – Kibbee Jul 7 '12 at 0:55

It depends on where you're riding. If you're riding in situations where you do not need to be aware of automobile sounds (quiet side streets, broad bike paths, etc) then it's probably OK. But in traffic, or on a narrow bike path where you'll need to hear the cyclist behind you call out "On your left", I'd strongly advise against it.

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Every opinion differs. Check local law and then decide for yourself.

I listen to music and audiobooks during my commute, but not on rides with others (I'd rather chat with them during the flats). I do pay attention to my surroundings and if the traffic is sketchy I will pop one (or both) buds.

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I should have mentioned that very few of the folks on the internet like the "decide for yourself". They want to enforce what they think is right for your safety. – Ken Hiatt Jul 6 '12 at 21:04
A different framing of the previous comment: The behavior of others affects my own safety. It's difficult to find a situation where one really can "decide for yourself" and one's choices don't affect others. Therefore, it's reasonable to ask others to behave more safely; i.e., yes, it really is OK for me to have an opinion about your behavior while on the bike. – Reid Jul 7 '12 at 3:18

Car-locating via the auditory system is a pretty much subconscious activity, but it exists nevertheless, and requires the audio channel to be free from blocking music.

Other option would be to listen to music at a lower level, or with only one earbud inserted, but this tends to give a poor musical experience, since wind on the earbud and the lower perceived sound level from a single ear makes necessary to rise the volume too much, or otherwise the music gets obscured by noise (and roads are naturally noisy).

I'd strongly discourage earphone usage while riding a bike. A better option would be to use some handlebar-mounted speaker system that play radio or mp3.

Hope this helps.

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