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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-01-06, 02:12 PM   #1
Allen
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Hearing Loss?

I posted this in General Cycling Discussions, but did not get an answer (some on hearing aids, but I'm not ready for those yet), so I though I'd try it here.

Does anyone know if the constant rush of wind noise has any detrimental effects on hearing?
What kind of decibel level are we listing to when pedaling at a decent clip?
I ask because my father, a dentist, has nerve damage to his ears from the constant whine of the drill.

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Old 08-01-06, 02:38 PM   #2
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Absolutely, it aggrevates my tinnitus...
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Old 08-01-06, 02:48 PM   #3
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Yes. Conductive hearing loss can be expected. Accept it. Embrace it. There's alot in my environment I don't care to hear anyway.
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Old 08-01-06, 02:58 PM   #4
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You'll still be better off than someone driving a car with the stereo on. ( at least at the volumes that my cagers seem to have them at).
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Old 08-01-06, 03:28 PM   #5
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I can't put any numbers on it, but I'vew had the situation where I wheeled my bike into the garage and wondered what water was running as the rest of the family was out of town before I realised my ears were misbehaving due to the wind noise they'd just been subjected to. It is very infrequent that I get anything that bad, but it's hard to believe that there is not some cumlative damage happening. I've wondered about ear plugs to cut the noise some but worry that may impair hearing traffic sounds too much. All the advise anybody has ever offered is it doesn't happen to them or just turn your head a little, useless.
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Old 08-01-06, 03:28 PM   #6
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I don't mind the wind so much. It's the constant honking.




Story: last night, around 9pm, I was riding on El Camino (a busy thoroughfare and major bus route). Traffic was light because it was late, and the stoplights seemed longer than normal because the usual constant stream of cars wasn't there. At one point, when the last car had gone through an intersection I was stopped at, I realized it was completely and suddenly silent. It was surreal. You could have heard a cricket chirp if there had been one. The noise started back up after a few seconds as more cars approached, but it made me realize how much traffic noise we block out most of the time. I wish I had more opportunities to ride at night - it's a whole other world out there.
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Old 08-01-06, 03:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steev
I've wondered about ear plugs to cut the noise some but worry that may impair hearing traffic sounds too much.
I have the same concerns about ear plugs as well (and it's too hot to tolerate them at the moment). But I used to wear the foam rubber "chicklet" ones when I worked as a barkeep, because of the bands, and could still hear my customers. I may give them a try and if it's no worse than my car with the windows up, I may make it a permanent habit.

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Old 08-01-06, 04:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slvoid
Absolutely, it aggrevates my tinnitus...
I have a little tinnitus. It sometimes seems to get a little worse when riding or later in the day of a long ride. But not every time. Did you notice any particular pattern or anything to do with the weather? Mine seems to be worse in the cold.
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Old 08-01-06, 08:26 PM   #9
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A little bit worse when my sinuses are acting up or when my nose is stuffy.
But definitely worse when I'm cranking it on the way to work. I haven't listened to any music for the past 4-5 times that I've commuted.
It's a ringing in my ears and sometimes things go slightly mute for a while, its creepy.
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Old 08-01-06, 08:37 PM   #10
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concerts and machining (metal) have had a bigger impact on my hearing than bicycle/wind impacts!
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Old 08-01-06, 09:13 PM   #11
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Stick a cotton ball in your ear and get on with it.
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Old 08-01-06, 10:12 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by tomg
concerts and machining (metal) have had a bigger impact on my hearing than bicycle/wind impacts!
I wouldn't guess that it would be a large impact, but the drill my father uses is not that loud either. He can hear a tv at a reasonable level and conversation is fine, but a high pitch alarm clock--nada. Anything high pitch and he is clueless. Try calling him on his cell phone for a full afternoon of fun.
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Old 08-02-06, 07:12 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slvoid
A little bit worse when my sinuses are acting up or when my nose is stuffy.
But definitely worse when I'm cranking it on the way to work. I haven't listened to any music for the past 4-5 times that I've commuted.
It's a ringing in my ears and sometimes things go slightly mute for a while, its creepy.
Same here with sinus, nose etc. It feels as if there is a little fluid in there some times. I'm wondering if there is a very small infection or just some extra fliud. I have had it checked a couple of times with no answers. I have had it for years.
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Old 08-02-06, 07:21 AM   #14
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What?
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Old 08-02-06, 08:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenG
I posted this in General Cycling Discussions, but did not get an answer (some on hearing aids, but I'm not ready for those yet), so I though I'd try it here.

Does anyone know if the constant rush of wind noise has any detrimental effects on hearing?
What kind of decibel level are we listing to when pedaling at a decent clip?
I ask because my father, a dentist, has nerve damage to his ears from the constant whine of the drill.

--A
ANY prolonged exposure to constant high levels of noise is bad for human hearing as our bodies
were not designed to deal with high noise levels on a longterm repeat basis.

Will the rush of air past your ears damage your hearing on a bicycle?? NO, I don't think so as it's
no worse than the rush of air would be riding a horse which man has done for centuries. It's the
manmade noise that the killer.
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Old 08-02-06, 09:03 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tightwad
ANY prolonged exposure to constant high levels of noise is bad ...Will the rush of air past your ears damage your hearing on a bicycle?? NO, I don't think so as it's
no worse than the rush of air would be riding a horse which man has done for centuries. It's the
manmade noise that the killer.
Good point. If you are riding in a pristine environment and the only noise you hear is your own breath, the beating of your heart, and the whistling of the air in your ears, I think the long term damage will be negligible.

I can't imagine there are many such commutes ... but I'm a life long urbanite, deaf as a door knob.
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Old 08-02-06, 09:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steev
I've wondered about ear plugs to cut the noise some but worry that may impair hearing traffic sounds too much.
I've got a friend that uses those little yellow foam earplugs to keep down the wind noise when touring on her motorcycle. I can have a normal volume conversation with her after she's put in the plugs, but it cuts out the high-speed wind noise.
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Old 08-02-06, 09:38 AM   #18
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Interestingly enough, I had really started digging into this in the last few weeks. It seems like I read somewhere that the wind buffeting can reach the neighborhood of 110db. That's really loud. Think about it, if you are listening to music at a fairly high level, the wind noise can still drown it out to where it's inaudible.

I have a couple 35mhp+ stretches that I hit every day that started me pondering this issue. Motorcyclists also encounter hearing loss if they aren't wearing full coverage helmets.

I did uncover these http://www.slipstreamz.com/ , and have briefly tried them out. They do seem to cut the noise down significantly even with me not installing them correctly. The only place i could find that was selling them was here: http://www.macfriends.com/index.asp?...OD&ProdID=2479

I'm currently working on a different design that is more of an airfoil to lift the air over the ear, while leaving the ear uncovered. We'll see how that pans out.

In the interim , I would say check out the slipstreamz.... if for nothing more than additional geek factor that they provide. Cuz these are the geekiest things I have ever seen. Yes, they far surpass even the orange safety vests.
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Old 08-02-06, 01:02 PM   #19
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Which reminds me of a question I asked long ago: are some helmets quieter than others above 25mph. Mine is a MTB helmet and it is very noisy on those downhills. But I haven't heard any roadies bragging that their helmets are quiet. I never had this problem with motorcycle helmets, so it's definitely a design flaw.
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Old 08-02-06, 01:07 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tightwad
ANY prolonged exposure to constant high levels of noise is bad for human hearing as our bodies
were not designed to deal with high noise levels on a longterm repeat basis.

Will the rush of air past your ears damage your hearing on a bicycle?? NO, I don't think so as it's
no worse than the rush of air would be riding a horse which man has done for centuries. It's the
manmade noise that the killer.

So, 'natural' noise of the same amplitude is less dangerous than man made noise?
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Old 08-02-06, 01:12 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenG
What kind of decibel level are we listing to when pedaling at a decent clip?
Depends on where you ride. If you're out in the sticks, it's insignificant.

Ride by a really busy 4 lane highway and it's extremely loud, particularly when it's wet. It's so loud that I had to buy a cell phone that sends text messages because I can't hear who I'm talking to even on max volume. I don't think that "normal" noise is dangerous for your hearing.
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Old 08-02-06, 01:14 PM   #22
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I've been riding for years and I can hear what you wrote just fine.
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Old 08-02-06, 06:19 PM   #23
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So, in places where it's illegal to have both ears covered by earplugs or headphones while operating a vehicle, what's a cyclist to do?

E.g. California ...

Quote:
27400. A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, or earplugs in, both ears. This prohibition does not apply to any of the following:

(... snip ...)

(d) A person wearing personal hearing protectors in the form of earplugs or molds that are specifically designed to attenuate injurious noise levels. The plugs or molds shall be designed in a manner so as to not inhibit the wearer's ability to hear a siren or horn from an emergency vehicle or a horn from another motor vehicle.
I'm hoping that "D" would be a reasonable exception.
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Old 08-02-06, 06:48 PM   #24
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Earplug use

I've worn earplugs while cycling for years; the protective type, as in (d) above. It cuts down on traffic noise and makes the ride a lot more pleasant. I don't feel it affects my ability to hear oncoming cars that much, and in any case, eyes and mirrors have the main job of doing that. My rides are always noisy, whether its from city traffic or the windblast of a good downhill run out in the country.

My ears are my friends. I've watched older relatives lose their hearing and it's not pretty. From what I gather, living with hearing aids is like having a tinny 1960s transistor radio in your head. And they cost as much (or more) than a high end road bike.
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Old 08-03-06, 08:10 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnorris
I've worn earplugs while cycling for years; the protective type, as in (d) above. It cuts down on traffic noise and makes the ride a lot more pleasant. I don't feel it affects my ability to hear oncoming cars that much, and in any case, eyes and mirrors have the main job of doing that. My rides are always noisy, whether its from city traffic or the windblast of a good downhill run out in the country.

My ears are my friends. I've watched older relatives lose their hearing and it's not pretty. From what I gather, living with hearing aids is like having a tinny 1960s transistor radio in your head. And they cost as much (or more) than a high end road bike.
Basicly there are two types of noise that do harm. First is loud "pulse" noise such as gunfire.
Second is "constant" noise such as a jet engine. Both of these types do harm because of the
high pressure air waves that carry the sound hitting the ear drum. This "concussion" pressure
just beats the crap out of the inner ear which cause deafness.

This "concussion" noise is often ignored due to the inability to feel the pressure after a time. The
cycle towards deafness is then underway.

This is where ear protection comes into play for the savvy & wise. The "concussion" can't harm the
ear if the pressure waves can't get to the ear drum IN FULL FORCE. That said, If you ride (or walk)
in an area of constant high pressure sound waves then it's smart to block as much of the sound as
you can safely.
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