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djasonpenney
04-28-2008, 11:37 AM
I started a thread half-humorously here: http://bikeportland.org/forum/showpost.php?p=10699&postcount=5

but I think it's worth a much more serious discussion after looking at the accident report for Austin Miller's tragic death
http://www.kgw.com/news/pdf/042808_MillerCrashSummary.pdf

The accident report notes that operating a vehicle while using headphones is against Beaverton city ordinance. It's illegal in the entire state of Washington, and I'm a little surprised it's not illegal all over Oregon as well.

One person responded to my thread by saying he had handlebar mounted speakers. Hey, IMNSHO that's just fine. Also OK is my friend who rides with a single earphone (to listen to podcasts); he leaves his street-side ear uncovered and has the volume set so he can hear traffic noise as well.

All of these things are OK. What is not OK is rendering yourself unable to hear what's going on around you. It amuses me that some motorists honk as the approach a bicyclist. Like, they're super quiet...NOT! More important are cues from pedestrians and other bicyclists. I do not need you to be startled when I'm passing you on another bike. Your hearing is an important asset to allow you to be safer when you bicycle. Do not give that up!

Would Austin have acted differently if he could have heard the Trimet bus as he approached the intersection? We'll never know, but the fact that he was functionally deaf didn't help. Please be safe, and pass the word along: riding with headphones on is a really Squid thing to do.

Squid: small brain, soft head (motorcycle term).

flying_dutchman
04-28-2008, 12:51 PM
Squid: small brain, soft head (motorcycle term).

Squid: Stupid, QUIck, Dead

That's the way I learned it.

I agree with your summary of the importance of hearing in staying safe. Cyclists will be taken seriously as transportation when they take cycling seriously as transportation.

Oldguyonabike
04-28-2008, 04:29 PM
I need to disagree. Driving a car with ghetto blasters and huge bass drivers is unsafe because you cannot hear horns and its distracting. Same with bikes. Sound deafening earphones at high volume is not safe either. But I have found that Sony "sport earphone" allows enough outside noise in to safely listen to the news on my way into work and music on the way home. I can hear much better on a bike with earphones than in a car with the stereo on. I can carry on a conversation or unclip one side if I need to.
Especially on dreary mid-winter rainy commutes I depend on subtle distraction to keep my attitude in line and 2 wheels (v 4) on the road.

rainperimeter
04-29-2008, 01:20 PM
i almost never wear headphones but can't figure that they're any more distracting than any of the gadgets, stereos, children, pets, food, etc. people have in their cars. also i'm betting that most bikers aren't riding around with sound isolation headphones on.

wsbob
04-29-2008, 01:44 PM
In reading the police investigation report, the investigating officer ventures the opinion that Austin Miller was using earbuds, but the report does not say that those earbuds were in his ears when they found him. It doesn't say that the mp3 player he had with him, was on.

Based on that report, it's not at all clear that Austin Miller was listening to his mp3 as he approached the intersection and collided with the bus.

Jim E. Hat
04-29-2008, 03:11 PM
you did not start a thread, you posted in somebody else's thread.

plus, you said that you hated pod people and that if you saw anyone with earbuds on, you's put them in a ditch. you got called out on it, and you said you were half-joking... which half? the hatred, or the violent act the hatred makes you want to commit? or are you half joking about the whole thing, and only sort of hate people with earbuds, and only want to hurt them a little?

brock
04-29-2008, 03:41 PM
I have no problem with earbuds or ghetto blasters or whatever.

I simply have a problem with cyclists who cannot hear what's going on around them.

Ear buds aren't the problem, stupid people are.

djasonpenney
04-29-2008, 05:11 PM
LOL Team OCD strikes again :D. Yes, it was a sidetrack in another thread; that's why I started this thread, to try bring this out as a separate issue.

The joking part was about causing injury. The part about I think it's dangerous to render yourself unable to hear audio signals from people around you is no joke whatsoever. I don't need to push them into a ditch; they're perfectly capable of becoming an organ donor without my help. (Hey, Jim, I'm joking again. OK? OK???? I seriously don't like it when anyone gets hurt.)

With regards to whether Austin was using headphones: unfortunately, due to the gruesome particulars of his accident, this will always remain a speculation. Even if he was listening to his iPod, we'll never know if it would have made any difference in his particular case.

Again, if you are taking steps to be able to hear and to respond to traffic, I commend you. If you're flying down the left side of the lane on your single as I'm trying to pass you on a tandem, and you can't hear either me, my stoker, or either of our two bells because of your d--m iPod (on RSVP, in Washington State, where it's flat out illegal), you have deserve what you get.

Finally, I'd like to note that at least one major riding organization in the Portland area has officially outlawed the use of headphones, period on group rides. The consensus is pretty clear here, I just want to make sure the word gets out.

you did not start a thread, you posted in somebody else's thread.

plus, you said that you hated pod people and that if you saw anyone with earbuds on, you's put them in a ditch. you got called out on it, and you said you were half-joking... which half? the hatred, or the violent act the hatred makes you want to commit? or are you half joking about the whole thing, and only sort of hate people with earbuds, and only want to hurt them a little?

erth64net
04-30-2008, 08:00 AM
I simply have a problem with cyclists who cannot hear what's going on around them.

So, does this mean you have a problem with deaf and hard-of-hearing people too?

It seems the underlying issue is not the self-imposed diminished capacity to hear surrounding sounds, but the failure of a "pod person" to take responsibility for their condition. When cycling while listening to an iPod (or similar device), they need maintain a higher level of vigilance, use mirrors, and realize that their inability to hear the briskly approaching/passing cyclist is their fault.

lefty175
04-30-2008, 09:57 AM
Okay, a few points I'd like to make.

#1 - As with all things, moderation is key. I listen to my headphones on almost every ride I do, whether it's a 2-mile commute or a century. I, however, tend to listen to books on tape, don't wear headphones that block my entire ear (supraaural), and listen at a volume that is reasonable. These three factors contribute to my ability to hear what is going on around me (note: books on tape contributes because of the broken sounds of a person reading, I am not being constantly inundated with screaming guitar riffs and thumping bass). I believe if you are going to completely condemn the use of earbuds, then you also need to condemn the use of loud car stereos, especially in cars that are so sealed that you can barely hear what's going on outside of you anyways.

#2 - Riding with one earbud in is a debatable practice. This article: http://www.bikexprt.com/bicycle/hearing.htm is very interesting and well written. To sum it up: it suggests that inhibiting one-half of your hearing actually causes your brain to be less able to interrupt where sounds are coming from. This further suggests that cyclists should take an all or nothing approach (i.e. both earbuds in or both out). Think about it: our brain interrupts where sounds are coming from based off of how loud they are in BOTH EARS, the same way that our eyes are used to interrupt depth (side note: if you want to know some cool shit, read about how owls hear. Their ears are actually at different heights to help them even further differentiate where sound are coming from!). If you close off one ear or muffle it, you are only getting a partial picture.

Anyways, my 2 cents.

djasonpenney
04-30-2008, 10:09 AM
Actually, I think it would be a very reasonable requirement for motorists to be able to hear an unaided human voice within a reasonable distance of their vehicle while they are driving, except on freeways.

Sport exhaust? Sorry, bag it. Unmuffled Harley? Not street-legal. Screaming diesel tractor-trailer rig? Freeway only.

Stereo? Heck, you'd better leave your windows down. If I'm screaming at my lungs that you're about to kill me, I want you to be able to hear me.

...but then, I'm already too much of an anti-motorist Nazi, so I figured I wouldn't go there. Until you brought it up :-)

beelnite
04-30-2008, 11:19 AM
Adding an I-Pod, personal stereo, whatever just seems too complicated for this Fred. Why add the extra weight and mess with these cables - I got enough to worry about straping my helmet and weird prescription sports goggles in place.

Then I get to work and I gotta fuss with my locks with foggy glasses, find my darn security badge...

Just not worth the hassle. It's one more thing to futz with.:)

One more random observation: The best professional driving instructor I ever had was an Englishman who made it no secret that if we really wanted to be responsible drivers we'd rip the darn stereo out of our vehicles. Carry the logic... when we are driving or cycling we need to be focused on the task at hand rather than putting our brain's ability to "multi-task" to the test.

All it takes is a second.

And no I don't think that our friends who take long trips in the countryside should be shamed into not bringing music with them responsibly... but in town... commuting? Hmm...