An article by Melena Ryzik in today’s New York Times, “ Turn on (MP3s), Tune In and Ride ,” presents the concept of expanding the “communal understanding about the pleasures of navigating the urban landscape” by having a “group bike ride with a shared route and a common soundtrack. . . . Riders equipped with MP3 players set off from the same point, pushing “play” simultaneously.”
Regular readers know that I am a biking aficionado. I will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that a bike rider with earphones is oblivious to the sounds of the road and is a hazard to himself and to others. It is hard to imagine a more dangerous way to ride, except for riding blindfolded.
I have presented, in other posts , data on the dangers of driving while on a cellphone. The neurological issue behind that danger is that human beings are not really that good at multi-tasking. I am not contending that such is the issue here. The issue here is that you simply do not hear things in the ambient environment when you are wearing earplugs.
While biking, I have approached people on the road and have called out the expected, “On your left,” as I prepare to pass them. People listening to music do not hear me. Then, as I pass, many of them swerve from the surprise. When I see those earbuds, I give extra berth because I know they might swerve into me. But sometimes, they swerve towards the curb where there can be road grates or other hazards. I have passed couples riding and listening together, who have almost collided with each other as I passed them.
Ok, so my voice is not very loud, but I have also witnessed bike riders who do not hear approaching trucks and buses as they listen to their iPods.
I am not talking here of people who blast the music at high volumes, like the ones you can hear across the aisle in a subway car. I am talking about normal music volumes.
So, please ride your bike with both ears open. Listen to music in another setting.