Okay ... first ... full disclosure here ... I have often ridden with headphones on ... with music ... many times at significant volume -- alone on the bike and in group rides. Not always, but often enough to feel compelled to write this article.
I've attempted to rationalize and convince myself that it's okay to wear headphones and listen to music ... that it's not a hazard, that I should be able to hear the important things going on around me, that nothing "bad" will happen. But ... I've simply been fooling myself AND more importantly ... disrespecting my friends and fellow riders. Yes, it can seem helpful and motivating, particularly on long rides, but ultimately it's a selfish act that endangers others. I've come to terms with this, and I've read the Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law ... and it leaves NO ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION.
So, I'm going cold turkey on this and making a 100% commitment to myself, to my family and to my friends ... NO MORE HEADPHONES ON THE BIKE.
After all ... It IS a LAW in Florida. And there is substance behind the law, which at some point was vetted out, fully discussed and thoroughly justified.
[316.304] States: "No person shall operate a vehicle (bicycles are defined under the law as a vehicle) while wearing a headset, headphone, or other listening device, other than a hearing aid or instrument for the improvement of defective human hearing."
Consider ALL of the following reasons for LEAVING YOUR HEADPHONES AT HOME going forward:
- Headphones significantly impair your ability to hear traffic
- Headphones significantly impair your ability to hear audible warnings given by fellow group riders
- You put your fellow riders at risk when you are unable to hear what is going on around you
- You put yourself at risk when you're unable to hear what is going on around you
- Headphones insulate you from the sounds on the road, any of which could warn you and cue you to ... important defensive or evasive action needed ... adjustment in ride positioning ... bike placement on the road ... and other necessary maneuvers to maintain your safety and the safety of other riders around you
- It demonstrates your respect for, regard for and care for your fellow group riders
- It's the law (as noted above)
Tell others ... Educate your fellow riders on this important law and safety precaution.
This communication serves as my own personal commitment to leaving my headphones at home and my apology for having shown disrespect to others on past rides by wearing them.
I'm all in ... are you?