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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 07-23-08, 05:22 AM   #1
recumelectric
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earplugs are doing wonders

I brought this up recently, and I was convinced to wear earplugs while riding. (Y'all old posters need to get over the need to b---- at me for bringing up an old topic, which was also discussed a couple of years ago.)

The earplugs have made a world of difference. I'm not freaking out in traffic anymore, and I rely more on visual cues to tell me what to do. I'm using visual hand signals to notify drivers of my intent, and it's working. After all, they are encased in a shell that may or may not allow them to hear my bell or verbal expressions. Also, when I drive, I use my visual sense more (since I am encased during those times), so it makes sense to use it when I bicycle, too.

Hoping that some newbies will consider earplugs. It significantly improves the quality of the ride.
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Old 07-23-08, 05:31 AM   #2
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I'd prefer to use audible clues as well as visual ones. It might be a situational thing though, since we all ride in different areas and under different circumstances.
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Old 07-23-08, 06:09 AM   #3
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I, personally, "Freak out" when a car pops up beside me that I didn't hear coming. Stupid Prius. Traffic noise would only be useless if I were riding a road that parallels a major interstate.
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Old 07-23-08, 07:12 AM   #4
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Buses with the engine in the rear are the worst. I know it's coming, but not that soon!
I wear earbuds and listen to music at a pretty low level. I can still hear people talking, cars, etc.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:26 AM   #5
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Might as well connect it to an Ipod as well?

I find hearing to be one of the most useful senses, when it works. After all, hearing is passive, you don't have to turn it on or off, or direct it in any particular direction. With hearing you get proximity awareness with location of other vehicles, approximate distance, speed, and rate of approach for other vehicles, and an idea about what kind of vehicle is approaching. All with no effort on your part. I choose not to impair hearing when on the bike.

I just wish hearing worked better under more diverse circumstances, like when there was a lot of other traffic noise, over 15mph with wind noise, and could detect other, more quiet vehicles.

I used to use earplugs on my motorcycle frequently, that helmet wind noise was deafening!
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Old 07-23-08, 08:46 AM   #6
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I wear earplugs whenever I am out on my motorcycle. At speeds above 35mph or so, steady wind noise in and around a helmet gets deafening... for real, deafening, as in demonstrable permanent hearing loss.

On bikes, it's not so bad. I think if my average speed ever gets up to 20mph or so, it might push me to wear earplugs, but for my commute, with no huge downhills, no earplugs works for me.

I agree that all sensory input one can get while mixing it up with traffic is important, so I'm hesitant to use earplugs while riding a bicycle.

Although earplugs do come in varying degrees of sound reduction--look for a lower number for bicycling perhaps. For motorcycling, I find the highest number I can find.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:49 AM   #7
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I use earbuds for my zune! haha.

I have to have some music. I keep it loud enough to hear it but I can still hear noises that I need to hear like horns or shouts.

Lets face it, when you ride you mostly hear the roar of wind in your ears anyway, and if somebody from behind wants to hit you, being able to hear it isn't going to help at all.

It helps keep me focused and pumped and use my eyes.

Can't think of a downside really.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:56 AM   #8
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With hearing you get proximity awareness with location of other vehicles, approximate distance, speed, and rate of approach for other vehicles, and an idea about what kind of vehicle is approaching.
With hearing I sure can't tell what lane position they are taking as they approach. Only my eyes can give me that info. And while out on the road, can't I just assume I'm going to have cars around me?

Your point that hearing is passive and all that sounds good but it doesn't mean much. The eyes and how to use them are what matter.

Last edited by daredevil; 07-23-08 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:57 AM   #9
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I listen to music and use ear buds that allow me to still hear what is around me. This forces me to look more. I always look when I turn left or right, even if it is just moving slightly left or right.

I've never had a problem with looking, it is a lot better than listening. Plus the ear buds still allow for car horns to be heard.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:30 AM   #10
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I prefer being able to hear a car driving up behind me.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:35 AM   #11
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Either this is a troll, or you are out of your mind. Audio clues are an important part of bicycle riding on the road.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:52 AM   #12
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Either this is a troll, or you are out of your mind. Audio clues are an important part of bicycle riding on the road.
Could be. God gave the lucky amoung us 5 senses why would anyone deliberately shut off one
in moving traffic.

Dumb. Very Dumb.
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Old 07-23-08, 10:20 AM   #13
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I prefer being able to hear a car driving up behind me.
Which brings us back to a point I made earlier. Can you hear if they are moving left to give you room?
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Old 07-23-08, 10:34 AM   #14
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I guess I'm super-sensitive about noise. What I can't understand is, why helmet designers don't seem to even TRY to reduce wind noise & turbulence? C'mon, why not just a cool-looking little airfoil near the ears? The noise of years & years of 2-hour road bike rides has got to be damaging. Plus, reducing noise also means reducing drag! I fabricate dorky little ear covers made of old sunglasses. They actually help me hear cars (keeps wind from masking). I've seen the Slipstreamz thingys but can't see how they'd be better in a stiff crosswind.
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Old 07-23-08, 12:17 PM   #15
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With hearing I sure can't tell what lane position they are taking as they approach. Only my eyes can give me that info. And while out on the road, can't I just assume I'm going to have cars around me?

Your point that hearing is passive and all that sounds good but it doesn't mean much. The eyes and how to use them are what matter.
Which is why I said I wished it worked better and in a greater variety of circumstances. I keep my hearing unimpaired precisely for that specific set of circumstances where it does do some good, and don't rely on it for anything because of the circumstances where it doesn't. Nobody rides by sound alone, but you could ride by sight alone. I liken it to an alarm that has a blinking light and a buzzer. You only need one to be alerted, but can you argue that having two is a bad idea? Aren't the advantages of hearing why automobiles have a horn built in? The recipient of the warning need not have their eyes or their attention in any particular place to receive an auditory warning? The opposition to unimpaired hearing comes from those who like to listen to music while riding. Fear not, I don't seek to ban your earphones, I just choose not to impair my hearing when I ride. I understand that visual attention more than compensates for auditory input.

edit: check out this link, perhaps a more rational and methodical treatise on the subject:

http://www.headwize.com/articles/jallen1_art.htm

Last edited by Hot Potato; 07-23-08 at 12:56 PM. Reason: spelling: dontcha just hate the spelling police?
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Old 07-23-08, 12:23 PM   #16
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I fabricate dorky little ear covers made of old sunglasses. They actually help me hear cars (keeps wind from masking). I've seen the Slipstreamz thingys but can't see how they'd be better in a stiff crosswind.
Am I the only one who wants to see a picture?

edit: hey, I googled slipstreamz. Did you notice that the website shows the eye protection being worn under the helmet strap? I have read that was a most freddish thing to do. Of course, when I pull my helmet off before I remember to take off my eye protection, and I watch my nice Oakley's crash onto the pavement, I start to think that perhaps fred is smarter.

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Old 07-23-08, 12:29 PM   #17
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One more vote for music. My earphones allow me to listen to stuff, which makes long trips shorter. Did it all the way through college. Something that worked well then in wind was wearing hats (the Santa-shaped kind) and pulling them over my ears. Downside's that it's not an option anytime besides winter. But yeah, I do think about hearing damage from wind while riding; would be ironic if this eventually switched me back to walking or driving.
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Old 07-23-08, 12:35 PM   #18
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I wonder if bushy lambchop sideburns would create some kind of wind blocker?
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Old 07-23-08, 01:01 PM   #19
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It might be a situational thing though, since we all ride in different areas and under different circumstances.
That's a really good, important point on this subject.
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Old 07-23-08, 01:25 PM   #20
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If you want to know whats going on behind you, use a mirror on your glasses/mirror/bike.

Hearing is never going to be a good judge when there is wind and noise in your ear, and frankly human hearing isn't as good as human sight.
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Old 07-23-08, 01:37 PM   #21
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Either this is a troll, or you are out of your mind. Audio clues are an important part of bicycle riding on the road.
Audio clues aren't that important along my route. By the time you can hear the vehicle, it's on top of you. The ones I can hear over my headphones, well, I can hear over my headphones.

I'm not out of my mind. Well, not in that regard, at least...
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Old 07-23-08, 01:41 PM   #22
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Either this is a troll, or you are out of your mind. Audio clues are an important part of bicycle riding on the road.
If anything what I hear while riding and assumed has been incorrect! My eyes have never tricked me in thinking someone was behind me or not behind me.

I practice the same while driving, I never listen for cars when changing lanes, I always check if there is a car there.
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Old 07-23-08, 01:41 PM   #23
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Maybe they're not THAT dorky(?) I'd say "phreddish" instead of your everyday freddish. Any case, it's important to glue a little square of foam to the inside of the lens, and possibly a little around the edge. Yes, dear, more bike stuff to tweak!
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Old 07-23-08, 01:42 PM   #24
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Judging by the OP username I have to guess that she rides a recumbent. That being said most of us don't. I have never ridden a recumbent but I think there must be some difference between a recumbent and more traditional style bikes.
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Old 07-23-08, 02:12 PM   #25
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I would never wear earplugs while riding.

A blindfold, on the other hand, always makes a ride more exciting and never boring.
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