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Another look at HB 2602, which would prohibit biking with headphones on

Posted by on January 18th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

headphones-1

Should it be illegal?
(Photo © J. Maus)

Lost in last week’s kerfluffle about a potential ban on biking with kids, was another bill proposed in the current Oregon legislative session that deserves our attention.

House Bill 2602 (text), sponsored by Representative Michael Schaufler (D-Happy Valley), would create a new traffic violation for “unsafe operation of a bicycle” if a person “operates a bicycle on a highway while wearing a listening device that is capable of receiving telephonic communication, radio broadcasts or recorded sounds.” The offense would come with a maximum fine of $90.

Like Rep. Mitch Greenlick, who said he proposed the six-and-under biking ban out of a concern for safety, Schaufler is also motivated by safety. He told me last week that “I just saw some guy driving down the street on their bike with their headphones on and thought, ‘He could get run over.’ It’s a safety issue. It’s pretty cut and dry. It’s a very simple, very basic concept.”

He’s right, it’s a basic concept. But is it necessary? Is it a good idea? Here’s a sampling of responses I’ve read:

“…I posit that bicycle safety should be less about reducing bicyclist distractions, and more about vehicle distractions, because it is the vehicles that pose the most risk and threat..”

“When you’re already surrounded by glass and metal and protected inside you’re car, you’re already paying less attention than a person riding a bike while blasting punk rock.”

“It may be more effective to expand the existing cellphone law to include cyclists [but with a lower fine for cyclists] and to allow the use of a single headphone to listen to music, etc…”

“… the law should define and prosecute distracted driving, and not reference a particular technology… it’s addressing a symptom and not the problem itself.”

What’s interesting about this proposal is that, the way it’s currently written, it would create an entirely new violation — “unsafe operation of a bicycle” — in the vehicle code. If passed, it’s possible that additional provisions could be added to this law in the name of safety. Another thing to keep in mind is that, because of the way our current cell phone law is worded, it’s unclear whether or not it applies to bicycle operators.

As for Rep. Schaufler, he’s reportedly frustrated with “the online opposition from cyclists.” Here’s what he told the Willamette Week recently:

“They (cyclists) are the ones that are complaining about it,” Schaufler said. “People on bicycles ask for a whole lot and then they say, ‘don’t regulate us!’”

UPDATE: As at least one commenter has pointed out, Rep. Schaufler was one of four legislators who co-sponsored the infamous mandatory bike registration bill that reared its ugly head in the 2009 session.

We’ll track this bill as it works its way through the legislative process. In the meantime, contact Schaufler and please weigh in below with your thoughts.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Marcus Griffith
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Marcus Griffith

Want to improve bicycle safety on the cyclists end? Increase the light requirements.

Corndog
Guest
Corndog

AMEN to this. I am a huge cycling advocate and commuter and have been since long before it became cool. But I can understand why there tends to be so much animosity towards cyclist in our community.

I don’t know how many times a day i see cyclists ridding in the rain at night in dark clothes with only the faintest of lights on their bikes. It’s amazing more cyclist aren’t hit in the winter when the sun sets so early and the rain turns everything black.

I would think having some minimum requirements for light brightness on a bike would be a much more sensible use of our representatives time than trying to ban kids from ridding bikes or telling cyclists they cant listen to music while ridding. Even with headphones on I can hear and sense what is going on around me on a bike better than when I am driving in a car with the radio on.

In all honesty I think we should forget about all of this. I find it ironic that most of these people pushing for more bike restrictions also happen to be republicans that used our last elections to rage on about how government has gotten to big and yet here they are trying to use the government to limit what I can or can’t do on a bike.

Laws like this don’t make people safer they just take away our freedoms and our options for making our own sound decisions.

I lived in Amsterdam for years, where everyone rides with kids on their bikes sans helmets and listening to music, and it was one of the safest and happiest places I have been.

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

i agree with you, corndog, except that we should forget this: in part because both bills were proposed by democrats.

Opus the Poet
Guest

You know that there is already a minimum performance standard in the law, right? visible from so many feet away and all that?

Sean G
Guest

As much as I opposed the under six bill, I was glad to at least receive a response from Rep. Greenlick when I shared my concerns. Rep. Schaufler, on the other hand, has not chosen to respond to my letter expressing my concerns, which is disappointing.

As stated in the original post about this, I feel this law is pretty silly considering the soundproofing and stereos found in every car on the road. I can hear conversational tones with my mp3 player on, I challenge a motorist with their car running and windows up to do the same.

I saw a guy looking at his GPS in his car and I thought, “He could hit someone.” Should we thus ban GPS units?

John I.
Guest
John I.

Sean G

I saw a guy looking at his GPS in his car and I thought, “He could hit someone.” Should we thus ban GPS units?

Maybe the guy on the bike didn’t have his radio/music on, he was just keeping the wind out of his ears.

I love it when people just jump to conclusions.
How about doing some research first.

Wish I could just make up laws as I go around town.

ambrown
Guest

Meh. I still haven’t received a response from Greenlick, all the more unfortunate because I am his constituent.

meh
Guest
meh

Except every car comes equipped with three mirrors allowing vision to be used to determine if there are dangers coming from behind.

How many cyclists use a mirror of any kind but instead rely on their hearing to determine that they are being overtaken?

Jason
Guest
Jason

No. This is not fair. I ride with earbuds in at a low volume. I can still hear cars coming up from behind me. Whats next skateboarders? Roller-bladers? Joggers? Pedestrians?

If this passes, I will still ride with music. Viva la civil disobedience!

John Landolfe
Guest

Jason, you bring up a good point: that we don’t really know what someone is listening to on headphones. Likewise, we don’t know who is daydreaming while driving a car, drunk while riding a bike, having a distracted conversation while operating a truck, et cetera until that person actually operates in an unsafe way. I find it odd to make a preemptive strike against specifically bicyclists and specifically headphones with no scientific evidence to support the concern.

rigormrtis
Guest
rigormrtis

Jason,
I happen to be an excellent driver when I am talking on the phone. Shouldn’t I be allowed to continue to do so?

It’s “not fair” because it happens to impact your own individual behavior. Regulation is great, so long as it impacts the other guy.

Paul Manson
Guest

I personally think its a bad idea to use headphones, but I do not think it rises to the level of a new law.

I’d rather have all my senses about me personally. I do notice I startle some other cyclists when they have headphones in – don’t think they can hear my bell or voice before I overtake them.

One thing to note is that headphone use may play a role in a civil suit if a cyclist is hit. The motorist could say the headphone use contributed to the crash.

Nick V
Guest

Spot on. I don’t see a problem with this law for the same reason that we should all stop at stop signs – if we want the same rights as cars, we have to have the same restrictions. Plus a cyclist wearing headphones, earphones, or whatever looks like (s)he couldn’t care less about their surroundings. Even if only taken from a PR point of view, that’s not good.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

But Nick, our cell phone law actually ENCOURAGES the use of earbuds/hands-free sets while driving. So how is this putting us on equal footing?

And to take it a step further, it’s not like the cell phone law itself is enforceable, anyway.

dan
Guest
dan

Please, Mr. Schaufler, the correct expression is “cut and dried,” not “cut and dry.”

jamesmoore80
Guest

Thanks dan. Also just so you know, it must be hyphenated. “Cut-and-dried”

JAT in Seattle
Guest
JAT in Seattle

As long as we’re handing out weird style diktats it need only be hyphenated when it modifies a noun.

dan
Guest
dan

That’s my understanding as well.

t.a. barnhart
Guest

if he adds a provision to measure whether cars are operating with their music on too loud, then cool. but if you ride a bike & depend on hearing traffic for safety, you’re toast. what we hear on a bike is virtually irrelevant; it’s what we see. i’d happily support a mirrors-on-bikes (or helmets) law. i, too, wear earbuds, and i can hear more than well enough. and with my mirror (the one made by the guy from Bike Gallery; it’s awesome), i know all i need to know to stay safe.

another well-intentioned bill from someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

rigormrtis
Guest
rigormrtis

earphones also act to muffle sound whereas open ears (albeit with loud music) do not.

My earbud headphones are great at noise reduction.

nick
Guest
nick

So, what it the headphone is also your hands-free device? i.e. iphone earbud?

Dave
Guest

Here’s the problem I have with this – automobiles are always being designed to increasingly more and more isolate their passengers from the outside. They are advertised with this as a main selling point – that a semi can pass you on the road and you won’t hear it. Nobody is complaining about this, and in fact, then people are adding stereos playing loud music on top of that. Still nobody is complaining. Then you see a person on a bicycle with headphones, and you get all irate that they can’t hear what’s going on around them?

This is just another way of targeting cyclists. Ban on headphones – I’m fine with that (seriously), as long as you also push to introduce legislation that would require measures that would allow a person in a car to actually interact with their surroundings. It’s another case of forcing cyclists to “behave” while allowing rampant bad behavior by other road users.

Eva
Guest
Eva

Amen!

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

yes! preach it!

Opus the Poet
Guest

I’m reminded of the Toyota commercials from 2 years ago with the cannon going off outside the car not waking the sleeping rabid badgers in the car, but the cell phone ringing inside the car did wake them, to the driver’s demise. Now if cars can muffle gunshots to near inaudible levels, why pick on cyclists with headphones?

rigormrtis
Guest
rigormrtis

Luckily, cars have other safety features such as airbags and seatbelts. What correlating things does a bike have?

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

How many fatalities do bikes cause each year?

Adron @ Transit Sleuth
Guest

Exactly. I’m always glad when someone else realizes the real ideological implications of this type of rule making.

NW Biker
Guest
NW Biker

I agree with Paul Manson’s comment. Part of the reason I ride is to get away from electronic noise and clear my head (I work in front of a computer all day), but I don’t think we need a law against those who ride while listening to music or talking on the phone any more than we do for motorists.

As someone else here said, where does it end?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

No one will argue that the deaf are not allowed to drive a car therefore there is no legal standing to discriminate against the deaf riding bi

April
Guest

I’m not sure that this is relevant. Deaf people are used to using their other senses to compensate.

todd
Guest

And so do bicyclists wearing headphones. The smart ones, anyway. And I submit that even a deaf bicyclist is more fully aware of his or her extent in space and surroundings, and far less of a threat to others, than a fully-abled car driver. Ever hear of a backover incident by bicycle?

I acknowledge that riding with phones is less safe than without. So is riding without eye protection. Doesn’t mean we need a law against either! It just calls for judgment about which conditions merit extra caution. Laws restricting personal freedom need strong evidence of a burden to society posed by the practice in question, where “strong” means “more of a burden than commonly accepted practices” such as driving the speed limit in town.

buglas
Guest
buglas

I have a family member who is deaf. The law requires that he have two outside mirrors on his vehicle – pretty much standard issue these days.

Kt
Guest
Kt

The deaf are allowed to drive a car, so long as they pass the same tests everyone has to pass.

It’s the BLIND who aren’t allowed to drive.

SD
Guest
SD

This legislation is misguided and based on false assumptions. It is targeting a visible behavior that has not been shown to cause harm.
If you rely on hearing for safe riding, you are not riding safely.
The only instance where hearing enhances safe cycling I can imagine is when a siren is warning of an emergency vehicle running a red light. Sirens are not blocked out by headphones.
The assumption that you need to have all of your senses to bike safely is incorrect.
Effort should go into teaching bikers to ride deliberately and courteously, which does not require hearing. Effort should go into creating a culture of safe informed cycling; not guessing at what looks unsafe and jumping to legislation.

Ray Ogilvie
Guest
Ray Ogilvie

What? You don’t need all you senses to ride safely?
How can you hear the motorists yelling “Get off the road, you subversive!” ?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Iblockquote cite=”q`Tzal”>
q`Tzal
No one will argue that the deaf are not allowed to drive a car therefore there is no legal standing to discriminate against the deaf riding bi

Stupid dumbphone
… deaf riding bicycles in public.
If the deaf can be allowed to cycle in public and walk in public then the rampant preventative fear mongers disguised as professional lawmakers need to stop and think first.
Perhaps they’ll learn that “any press is good press” does not appyl to politics.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Ride down Barbur or Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy, you’re not hearing much of anything anyway!

riversiderider
Guest
riversiderider

I think it is unsafe to ride with headphones but I would not go so far as to create a law outlawing it.

I will not ride with anyone who is using a headphone and have on occasion startled riders using them even though I have called out the customary “on your left”.

BURR
Guest
BURR

Seems to me like it would make more sense to require bicycles to be equipped with mirrors.

Ray Ogilvie
Guest
Ray Ogilvie

What would you be looking for in the mirror, while taking your attention away from where you are going,
that you couldn’t hear internaly combusting behind you?

Kt
Guest
Kt

Other people riding bicycles who want to pass you.

Unless you count digestion as internal combustion– and if I’m digesting loud enough for you to hear me upon approach, maybe I should see a doctor.

becky
Guest
becky

So, Handsfree cell phone use would be legal for cars but not bikes under this bill. It’s slightly nuts.

Bill
Guest
Bill

I will support the law if automobiles have to drive with all their windows down and no music so they have the same level of awareness. Would motorcycles also have to remove all audio equipment from their helmets?

Tomas Quinones
Guest

ANOTHER poor way to start a “discussion” Mr. “Think of the Children”. Before this law can even be considered, please put something on the books about the maximum decibels allowed in car stereos? I’ve never heard headphone cause my house to shake like some of the pimped-out cars that cruise Hawthorne regularly.

halfwheeled
Guest
halfwheeled

Banning headphones is the only part of the bill that makes sense. It is sad to hear cyclist agree headphones are unsafe, yet don’t think passing a law is reasonable. Headphones are already BANNED in most cycling clubs and race teams I know of in Oregon. So passing a law is not to far off from what cycling organizations already impose on themselves.

If the bill is “unclear” as to if cyclists are included, then we should default to assume cyclists are included since we are supposed to follow vehicular laws until clarification. Why on earth would we exclude cyclists from the rules of the road? It’s just common courtesy to other road users to obey the law.

tyea
Guest
tyea

Riding in a cycling club is different than commuting on a bicycle or riding solo. Some clubs ban headphones for the following reasons (which do not justify legislation banning headphones. Legislation should be based on safety statistics)
1. Litigation in case of a bicycle related wreck. Most club rides require your signature just prior to the ride on a sign up sheet with a release form. Unfortunately, most clubs must have restricting rules to minimize litigation from even their own members.
2. Riding clubs are often considered social events, and wearing headphones is not friendly for social riding.
3. Riding on a club ride, riders often group close together, and one person wrecking may result in the closely surrounding riders wrecking, thus zero distractions are mandated under the fear of litigation for club policies that could be considered a liability. Additionally, often large club rides result in long lines riding two abreast on the roadway, which demands hearing warnings from the back of the pack about cars coming from behind.

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

agreed! i don’t wear headphones during group rides for these reasons.

gearhead
Guest
gearhead

I wonder if you ever commuted in portland by bicycle:

– Commuting often requires one to ride close together with bikes and cars, just like in clubs. Ever heard of bicycle gridlock? In fact, the commutes I have on bikes has always been more crowded and intense than when riding in a club.
– I have yet to see any materials from the BTA that recommends the use of headphones while riding. And they recommend a lot of things in their literature.
– My experience commuting is often chaotic, thus requiring more attention than an organized calmer club ride.
– Club riders are often more experienced riders than commuters in my experience. I realize this opinion is subjective. The craziest, dangerous, most outrageous behavior on bikes has typically been observed on my bicycle commutes.
– Bike clubs and commuting ARE THE SAME as we obey the same laws of the road.

To be honest, I’m not concerned about most riders on this forum using headphones. It’s the idiot bicycle riders with headphones and phones that I’m worried about most, and passing a law limits the idiots action, not the action of responsible riders. We don’t need any more self-imposed distractions on our rides.

tyea
Guest
tyea

I commute every day on a bicycle, and have been bicycle commuting daily almost continuously for 20 years. I ride on N Williams during rush hour, which is probably one of the most crowded bike lanes. I ride on some portland wheelman club (no ear phones allowed with them) rides, and ride in many of the riding events like, reach-the-beach. I AM speaking from experience. Outlawing headphones is a waste of time and is not a statistically proven bicycle riding safety hazard. If bicycle safety is the issue, it should focus primarily traffic law enforcement, best practices for visibility, riding skills, and infrastructure rehab/development/planning.

rigormrtis
Guest
rigormrtis

You know, banning cell phones in cars has not been shown to significantly improve driving above and beyond any other distraction……

snapbrim
Guest
snapbrim

I think maybe you’re assuming that your experience with commuting fairly represents everyone else’s experiences. For me, commuting and club rides are worlds apart, mainly because, being a bit antisocial, the club ride thing pretty much sounds like an effing nightmare- completely at odds with what compels me to ride a bike. Anyway, depending on when and where your commute takes place, you may or may not find yourself rubbing shoulders with other cyclists. In my case, I commute between the SE and NE and I have yet to experience “bike gridlock” on my route. And, no, I don’t use headphones or earbuds while I ride (again, kinda runs contrary to why I ride), but I think it’s up to individuals to monitor their ability to see and hear adequately. Closing thought: if bike laws are to be based on the assumption that cyclists are reckless idiots, why allow cycling at all? Instead, why not assume that people have some sense in their heads and then make laws to deal with those who prove that they have no such sense?

Biker
Guest
Biker

I see this and the under six law as more of the “bikes are unsafe” propaganda. If bikes are unsafe then it is not what the bikes are doing, in general, it is the drivers around them, or the bad conditions on the road. If we are going to go with bans of things that distract, then a all-out ban on music in cars, joggers and walkers with headphones or ear buds blasting away, as well as bicyclists. And maybe a total ban on motorcycles that make noise as they can’t hear anything over the rumble of their engines.

We might be better at banning politicians, they are dangerous as well!

Oh, and as for the noise, Portland has a noise ordinance that should shut down vehicles that vibrate the buildings for a block and hogs! But it is never enforced. IMHO a law that is not enforced is not much of a law and can only be used for discriminatory purposes. A law like this would most likely be used to keep from paying for injuries as the fault was the bicyclist who had ear buds, not the driver who ran a red light, drove in the bike lane, turned right without looking, or just drove over a bicycle for the fun.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

I totally rode past you when you were taking these pictures. 🙂

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Iblockquote cite=”q`Tzal”>
q`Tzal
No one will argue that the deaf are not allowed to drive a car therefore there is no legal standing to discriminate against the deaf riding bi

Stupid dumbphone
… deaf riding bicycles in public.
If the deaf can be allowed to cycle in public and walk in public then the rampant preventative fear mongers disguised as professional lawmakers need to stop and think first.
Perhaps they’ll learn that “any press is good press” does not apply to politics.

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

More from the Willamette Week:
[Schaufler] voiced frustration with the online opposition from cyclists.

“They (cyclists) are the ones that are complaining about it,” Schaufler said. “People on bicycles ask for a whole lot and then they say, ‘don’t regulate us!’”

Schaufler said his bill is a common-sense measure designed to protect cyclists.

“I think it makes sense not to have sound pumped into your ears while you’re riding a bicycle,” he said. “You should have all your wits about you. Do you ride a bicycle with blinders on your eyes? You have to be conscious and ride defensively. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that when you’re on a bicycle you’re far more vulnerable than if you’re in a car or truck.”

Continued feedback to Rep. Schaufler – and YOUR OWN Representatives – is suggested. Keep it civil and polite, and mention the bill number. rep.mikeschaufler@state.or.us

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

thanks, evan.

you know, the tone of Shaufler’s public discourse is really rubbing me the wrong way. “cut and dry,” “anyone with two brain cells to rub against each other,” “People on bicycles ask for a whole lot,” “just saw some guy driving down the street on their bike.”

JR
Guest
JR

In grade school, I was taught that elected legislators bring proposals recommended by their constituency after careful consideration by that Rep.
This is an example of a legislator proposing something of his own invention without voter support or careful consideration which undermines my trust in representative democracy and makes me wonder how much money and time we waste on such things.
I want my Reps tackling the hard questions brought forth by the people…(hmmm, by the people)…not making up stuff that must then by studied, lobbied for and against, then never enforced in the real world anyway.

Rep. Schaufler’s interest in improving transportation safety is swell but ignores the elephant in the intersection; automobiles.
We do not currently have the capacity to enforce even the basic rules handed out with our driver’s license privileges. Cops spend half their time sweeping up car collisions on a routine daily schedule. I’d prefer we find ways to:
Stop uninsured motorists from driving.
Criminalize killing a person with your car.
Make all road users pay their share including costs generated from colliding with one another.
Educate all users on shared road responsibilities.
Quit taking up public space with private vehicle storage.

then you can start legislating new stuff like checking the volume on my phone or IDing my 6 year old on his bike ride to school.

JAT in Seattle
Guest
JAT in Seattle

this is a very sensible civics lesson, and even if it’s only a fiction that legislators bring proposals from their concerned contituents rather than just dreaming stuff up, it’s certainly a reasonable aspiration for government.

having said that (and i say this from a state where headphone use is already illegal and rarely if ever enforced) and setting aside the deaf driver/cyclist strawman… are your headphones really turned down far enough that you can hear a conversation?…

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

i’m still working on my letter, but it intends to invite rep. shaufler to drive to salem every day without his radio/CD player for a week. sure, he’ll be able to hear the road better, but does it actually help him drive?

personally, i’m shocked at how flippantly it seems he decided to create this law: just because he saw something that -could- be dangerous he wants to pass a law against it? that’s ridiculous. i mean, oregon doesn’t even require helmets! if this passes i’ll be absolutely gobsmacked.

i wish he’d spend the time making happy valley a safer place to bike instead.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I am with Jason.. JUST ONE EAR 🙂

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i listen to mp3s using a single earbud. this has little or no impairment on my ability hear traffic noise.

“People on bicycles ask for a whole lot and then they say, ‘don’t regulate us!”

wow…just wow! this is the kind of sentiment i expect from an oregonian-posting astroturfer, not an elected democrat.

David Haines
Guest

“operates a bicycle on a highway while wearing a listening device that is capable of receiving telephonic communication, radio broadcasts or recorded sounds.”

Unless I’m missing something, this bill would make it illegal to wear a bluetooth earpiece on a bike, but not in a car. Exactly what problem is this targeting?

As with the children-on-bikes “discussion,” there needs to be specific, hard data. Assumptions and inferences, based on broad studies or casual observation don’t cut it.

For all proposed legislation, I wish legislators would state exactly what the problem is, prove it with objective facts, then explain why their proposal is the best solution.

John Russell (jr98664)
Guest

Yeah, i’m not too fond of the language “listening device that is capable of receiving telephonic communication, radio broadcasts or recorded sounds”, as I don’t see any other indication that this means strictly headphones. Technically, isn’t a boombox a listening device capable of recorded sounds? If it were in a backpack or something, it would count as wearing it, which as I understand would be illegal under this law.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

ouch! good catch there… AND it also doesn’t state that you have to be using the device, so technically just having it in your backpack while turned off is a violation…

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

I tried a single ear, and for me, the volume increase required wasn’t worth it. I use two ears, and I keep the volume level low because I don’t want to damage my hearing….that means that if there is any headwind at all, I just turn my podcast or audiobook off, because the wind noise is louder…

…which leads me to propose that one of these wonderful representatives ban headwinds, because they create unsafe levels of noise.

(of course, I also find it entertaining that it’s the wearing of headphones that’s banned rather than volume levels or even whether sound is coming through them… my iphone headphones are nearly always in, but sometimes it’s just so that I can answer my phone hands free….you know, like the law says I should!)

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

ha! yes, please! i would love for there to be a ban on headwind!

Jim F
Guest
Jim F

Just because it is dumb, doesn’t need we need to make it illegal.

h
Guest
h

what about requiring mirror while you are using earphones? in most states, deaf people are required to have a left mirror on vehicle while driving. i think this could apply to headphone users on bicycles. Just saying…

mmann
Guest

I’m with the others who have said, in essence, I don’t ride with headphones, but I don’t think it should be illegal.

I guess what bothers me about this and Greenlick’s bill is the seemingly haphazard way they’re coming up with legislation – which basically amounts to seeing something they are uncomfortable with and thinking “Why, there outta be a law!” Seriously?!? In our current economy, with the multitude of problems Oregon is facing, this is the best they can come up with? It just smacks of pandering to the whiniest constituents. Here’s an idea: Check with the DMV, the police departments, and emergency room records to see if there’s actually a problem. When the cell phone driving ban was finally proposed, there was plenty of hard evidence that showed people were dying out there as a result of distracted driving. Are cyclist riding with headphones involved in a disproportionate number of accidents? Are emergency rooms seeing an unusual number of kids injured while riding on their parent’s bike? If so, you’ve got a case. But if you can’t demonstrate a need, stop wasting our time and money.
Here’s a proposed bill for you: a bill that bans proposed legislation without documentation of a need for the law.

April
Guest

I do wear headphones on occasion when I ride, and I keep them low enough to hear someone ringing a bell, a large vehicle approaching from behind, that kind of thing.

In general I think it’s kinda stupid to ban headphones, when cars are allowed to have music loud enough to drown out any traffic noises.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

I’ll echo the sentiment that I would be fine with a law that limits the number of decibels of noise reduction allowed for any operator of any vehicle.

I used to have a pair of those headphones that sit into your ear canal and act like a pair of earplugs – I think they had something like 20db of noise reduction on their own…I would *never* wear those on a bike, but really, I don’t think they reduced outside noise more than most cars do with the windows closed.

I’m also uncomfortable with the assumption that cyclists need to use their ears more than cars – I think implied in that is that cyclists need to hear when a car is behind them so that they can “get the hell out of the way.”

Brian
Guest
Brian

Unbelievable. UNBELIEVABLE. All the legal and illegal distraction factors prevelant in cars are much more dangerous to everybody. Add some teeth the cell phone laws if you want to improve safety. Biking with ear phones, that is a personal problem. If you are driving an suv while distracted you are menace to everybody on the road.

This smacks of blaming a victim.

sabernar
Guest
sabernar

I’m a cyclist and I’d LOVE to see this bill passed. I can’t stand riding near anyone with headphones. For the most part, they have no clue that anyone else exists.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i apologize for passing you the other day, sabernar.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Sorry I didn’t hear you on the bridge last week, sabernar.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

odd that the headphones of other riders have never bothered me… only their stupid actions bother me… maybe I’m just one of the odd ones…

CaptainKarma
Guest

I think that’s what’s going on is a campaign to cause bicyclists to become reactionary and start screeching and look like cretins. Might be working.

John Lascurettes
Guest

I’m all for supporting the bill, the minute it includes a provision to outlaw radios, sound-proofing and side windows in all cars.

I challenge any person in any car to better hear their environmental cues surrounding them at any speed against me wearing earbuds with the music on.

John Lascurettes
Guest

… “against me wearing earbuds with the music on while on my bike,” that should have read.

Bob_M
Guest
Bob_M

I don’t ride with ear buds. There is plenty to pay attention to with out music. I have been frustrated by cyclists with ear buds who don’t have a clue that other persons are near by (despite bell ringing and vocal attention grabbers) My opinion is typical retro-grouch, that it is dumb, just like using a cell phone while driving is dumb.

You can not and should not make a law against being dumb, but because the wires to ear buds are noticable, a LEO can easily identify the “distracted rider”

this bill does not stand a snow ball’s chance in hell of being passed. and Michael Schaufler the nanny state rep from happy valley is wasting his time.

Kenji
Guest
Kenji

No matter what happens, I’ll still use them. And you can quote me on that.

JM
Guest
JM

Why not a law requiring these morons to wear helmets. Helmets are a good idea but I see a lot of people w/o them everyday. Headphones are much less a problem.

Toby
Guest
Toby

Morons? Really? What a peach…

h
Guest
h

some day earphones become wireless and more smaller it makes difficult for cops to enforce… hearing aids are made so small that is well-hid in the ears. I think this bill is pointless, wasteful and unenforceable.

michweek
Guest
michweek

Sennheiser already makes wireless earbuds. They are bluetooth I believe.

joe
Guest
joe

h
some day earphones become wireless and more smaller it makes difficult for cops to enforce… hearing aids are made so small that is well-hid in the ears. I think this bill is pointless, wasteful and unenforceable.

I agree totally. However the bill is made irrelevant by this statement: “operates a bicycle on a highway while wearing a listening device.”

Around here, we only call Interstates, highways, which no sane cyclist would be caught on.

A.K.
Guest
A.K.

While I agree that one would never think about riding down the side of I-84 or I-5, there are many rural roads official labeled “highways” that I have done plenty of riding on, because they have wide shoulders and good visibility, so in some cases it’s not crazy to be “riding on an interstate highway”.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The last leg of my commute is on SW Barbur, otherwise known as Highway 99W.

John Lascurettes
Guest

I don’t know how OR defines it in the ORS, but in California pretty much all publicly funded and accessed roads are defined as a legal highway.

John Lascurettes
Guest

Confirmed. Also in in Oregon, a “highway” is pretty much any publicly accessed road:

https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/801.305

TonyT
Guest
tonyt

What I think is worst about it is his quote.

“I just saw some guy driving down the street on their bike with their headphones on and thought, ‘He could get run over.’ It’s a safety issue. It’s pretty cut and dry. It’s a very simple, very basic concept.”

Really? This is the basis for burdening people with yet another law? A conclusion arrived at more blithely than one might order a coffee?

Hmm, I was walking down the street and saw a woman in high heels and thought “She could fall down and get hurt.” It’s a safety issue. It’s pretty cut and dry. It’s a very simple, very basic concept.”

How about enhancing safety with something backed by DATA.

Evan
Guest
Evan

All I have to say is that if we ban cyclists from wearing headphones, we should ban walkers and joggers from wearing them too. I’ve rung me bell, then yelled, and then screamed right behind a walker or runner wearing headphones and they are completely oblivious. And then when you pass them closely THEY get mad?!?!
I have an old cell phone with an SD card and a speaker. It works great when I want tunes on my rides.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Kenji! Dude! On the track?

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

When I ride a motorcycle I wear earplugs, this bill doesn’t seem to target motorcyclists but lots of people I know have music systems built into their motorcycle helmets, and often motorbikes are so loud you can’t hear over them to begin with. Even with headphones in I can hear what is going on around me better than I can either on my motorcycle or in my car. Considering that I have yet to hear of a single bike vs car collision that police found to be caused by the cyclists headphones I think this is a solution in search of a problem. I don’t mind being regulated on a bike if the regulations make sense and are backed up by data, this bill meets neither standard.

Stripess
Guest
Stripess

What about all the motorists who drive while listening to headphones?

Opus the Poet
Guest

I personally wouldn’t wear headphones or earbuds while I ride, but then I also had a car with no radio back when I drove cars. What I think is the greater danger is the excessive amount of soundproofing in cars sold today. Emergency vehicle sirens have had to be made louder to the point that hearing protection is required for firemen on a fire engine because of the sound level. My ears ring all the time because of my wreck, but they ring worse when a fire engine goes by my on my bike or when I’m walking on the sidewalk.

Lapis
Guest
Lapis

I use headphones when I ride partially for music and partially to protect my ear canals. I keep the sound low enough that I can hear all but the quietest vehicles the majority of the time.

I’ve tried riding with puffy earmuffs instead, but that muffles my hearing a great deal more and I get lost in thought…. having a beat keeps me out of la la land.