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Are Earbuds legal to wear while riding?

Old 09-16-13, 09:01 AM
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Are Earbuds legal to wear while riding?

I seems to me that they're not so safe. I come across mostly newbie types wearing these, however the Tri guys seem to be the biggest users. Are these things legal??
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Old 09-16-13, 09:05 AM
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Wearing headphones or earbuds in both ears when riding a bike is illegal in California.

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Old 09-16-13, 09:09 AM
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Legal or not, I have come up behind people weaving across bike paths who are incapable of hearing people approach from behind. The big problem is that while it may be illegal for cyclists, it isn't for pedestrians, dog walkers and roller bladers. In those cases its just rudeness, or ignorance of the danger.
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Old 09-16-13, 09:19 AM
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Not only are they illegal its down right foolish and irresponsible (not just for cyclist but for others as well). That said, I know many people, including the bulk of my friends, use them road or mountain biking. If you elect to take a chance, please keep the music down on low and wear only one bud. Just know you may be missing what's going on around you...
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Old 09-16-13, 11:45 AM
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This discussion leads to an interesting concept... why are they perceived to be dangerous? If it's because earbud/headset users won't hear audible warnings such as bells, yells, sirens etc then would this also mean that deaf people shouldn't be allowed to ride, walk or jog? Or that they should be required to wear some sort of specialized equipment such as mirrors or a bright vest or other visual cue to other people that they're deaf?

I know several riders/runners who are profoundly hearing impaired and I have significant hearing loss in one ear due to a combat injury. When I'm riding at any decent speed (or into a headwind) the wind noise in my ears makes it hard to hear cars approaching from behind. Should I be restricted to riding only below a certain speed, or prohibited from riding into a headwind? What about people who ride or run in cold weather? Should they be prevented from wearing ear muffs or anything else that covers their ears for warmth?

Regardless of the legalities involved, I suspect that "clueless" riders, walkers and joggers would still act in a manner that creates problems or dangers to other people whether they're using earbuds, headphones or anything else that restricts their hearing. I'm afraid that, as usual, many people are focusing on a symptom of the problem instead of the actual problem itself. In this case, many people in our society are so inwardly focused that they have no situational awareness and endanger other people when they walk, ride, drive, or push a shopping cart.

Any other thoughts along this line?

Sam
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Old 09-16-13, 12:51 PM
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I don't wear earbuds, not because I think they're especially unsafe (except in a group ride), but because I would rather enjoy the ride rather than music. For me, my eyeglass mirror provides far more safety and awareness of what is around me than my ears. I can't imagine how your hearing would actually help you, unless a car that was about to hit you made a huge amount of noise.
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Old 09-16-13, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by sam21fire
This discussion leads to an interesting concept... why are they perceived to be dangerous? If it's because earbud/headset users won't hear audible warnings such as bells, yells, sirens etc then would this also mean that deaf people shouldn't be allowed to ride, walk or jog? Or that they should be required to wear some sort of specialized equipment such as mirrors or a bright vest or other visual cue to other people that they're deaf?

I know several riders/runners who are profoundly hearing impaired and I have significant hearing loss in one ear due to a combat injury. When I'm riding at any decent speed (or into a headwind) the wind noise in my ears makes it hard to hear cars approaching from behind. Should I be restricted to riding only below a certain speed, or prohibited from riding into a headwind? What about people who ride or run in cold weather? Should they be prevented from wearing ear muffs or anything else that covers their ears for warmth?

Regardless of the legalities involved, I suspect that "clueless" riders, walkers and joggers would still act in a manner that creates problems or dangers to other people whether they're using earbuds, headphones or anything else that restricts their hearing. I'm afraid that, as usual, many people are focusing on a symptom of the problem instead of the actual problem itself. In this case, many people in our society are so inwardly focused that they have no situational awareness and endanger other people when they walk, ride, drive, or push a shopping cart.

Any other thoughts along this line?

Sam
To boil it all down, because they are Bike Paths. You will hear others call them MUP's. I rarely do. Often they are in areas where pedestrians have an alternative, called a sidewalk. I use my bike recreationaly, but it is also a major source of transportation for me. I commute ten miles after work, five of it on a Bike Path, that is often crowded by people who have an alternative. If I were asked to slow to walking speed to appease the politicians and multi-modal advocates, I would just as soon walk. I have a train to catch.
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Old 09-16-13, 01:08 PM
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I wear them, but only have the right earbud in. I have it high enough to hear the music, but low enough to be able to hear my surroundings. I only use them when I ride solo.
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Old 09-16-13, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Chaco
I don't wear earbuds, not because I think they're especially unsafe (except in a group ride), but because I would rather enjoy the ride rather than music. For me, my eyeglass mirror provides far more safety and awareness of what is around me than my ears. I can't imagine how your hearing would actually help you, unless a car that was about to hit you made a huge amount of noise.
Add to that that I am too much of a music lover to listen to anything blasted by so much wind noise.
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Old 09-16-13, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by sam21fire
This discussion leads to an interesting concept... why are they perceived to be dangerous? If it's because earbud/headset users won't hear audible warnings such as bells, yells, sirens etc then would this also mean that deaf people shouldn't be allowed to ride, walk or jog?

...

Any other thoughts along this line?

Sam
I am in the same situation, although I am deaf in my left ear from birth. The difference is that someone riding with ear buds with music blasting has a DISTRACTION whereas someone who is hearing impaired does not. Someone with a hearing impairment usually has a stronger sense of their limitations and tries to be more aware of their situation and will likely notice a situation without audible warning that is dangerous. I know I rely on visual clues more strongly than a few of the people I have ridden with. Scanning long before an intersection, watching the road in FRONT of a vehicle that is in front of me for dangers, watching shadows and looking for movement in my peripheral vision, etc.

Someone with average hearing having music blasted into their ears may not have such an advantage and many times does pose more of a risk. I know I've come up behind a few on the MUP that I've dinged my bell repeatedly, called out, waited for a better opportunity to pass and STILL they about jump out of their skin when I do pass - and a few times jump INTO my path, once nearly knocking me off my bike.
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Old 09-16-13, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by CommuteCommando
To boil it all down, because they are Bike Paths. You will hear others call them MUP's. I rarely do. Often they are in areas where pedestrians have an alternative, called a sidewalk. I use my bike recreationaly, but it is also a major source of transportation for me. I commute ten miles after work, five of it on a Bike Path, that is often crowded by people who have an alternative. If I were asked to slow to walking speed to appease the politicians and multi-modal advocates, I would just as soon walk. I have a train to catch.
it's funny that you call them Bike Paths because if I'm not mistaken, most of them have signs instructing cyclists to yield to horses and/or pedestrians.
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Old 09-16-13, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
it's funny that you call them Bike Paths because if I'm not mistaken, most of them have signs instructing cyclists to yield to horses and/or pedestrians.
If I'm not mistaken, the one he's referring to is called the San Luis Rey Bike Trail.
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Old 09-16-13, 02:19 PM
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I guess they changed it to San Luis Rey River Trail. The maps still say bike trail.
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Old 09-16-13, 02:27 PM
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Interesting, the city website calls it a class 1 bicycle trail but then has all this verbiage:

The trail is a Class I bicycle trail open to pedestrians as well. The trail is 7.2 miles, one way, from the Neptune access (west end) to the eastern-most point on the College Bridge. The trail follows the path o the San Luis Rey River. This relatively flat trail is safe for all age groups, is completely separate from motorized traffic, and is free of stop signs and traffic lights.

This multiuse trail may be used for recreational purposes by other non-motorized users such as hikers, runners and roller-bladers. It is not intended for equestrian use due to its design and limited width. Motor vehicles are prohibited. Walkers and runners are welcome to bring their dogs to the trail for exercise as well. Dogs using the trail must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.


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Old 09-16-13, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by GP
I guess they changed it to San Luis Rey River Trail. The maps still say bike trail.
Yep, and once you get far enough away from the park at College, the pedestrians become, for the most part, serious joggers, and experienced dog walkers with well behaved dogs.

I believe the Aliso Creek Trail in Orange county started as a Bike Trail. What started as a pretty good idea got "killed in committee". Now we should open up the freeways to use as playgrounds. Yeah! That's the ticket!
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Old 09-16-13, 02:41 PM
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Back to the OP's original question -

What about those head phones that sort of sit near your ears rather than ON your ears. I've seen little helmet speakers and I recently picked up a Cardo BK-1 duo intercom system so I can ride with my son and he can blabber the whole time. The head phones are physically mounted to the helmet and sit off the ears a bit. Do those things count?
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Old 09-16-13, 02:49 PM
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I've seen boom boxes and bike mounted sound systems. The only problem with these is that the users generally believe that their "great" taste in music will appeal to every one. I am real picky, and most of what I like isn't very popular, which is why I rarely inflict it on others.
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Old 09-16-13, 03:00 PM
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So far, Sam has the best explanation, imo....
Originally Posted by sam21fire
In this case, many people in our society are so inwardly focused that they have no situational awareness and endanger other people when they walk, ride, drive, or push a shopping cart.
I also noticed that most of the cyclists, tri guys, etc. using both ear buds are incredibly rude,ie, don't announce there presence or even worse pass on the right. (happened twice to me last weekend)
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Old 09-16-13, 07:04 PM
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I do wear them fairly often.

I have had my share of cyclists who are surprised when I strike up a conversation while wearing them. They do not have to be loud

I enjoy having music while riding.

I also like being able to answer a call without having to fumble my phone out of my back pocket so at times my music is not on but I am just prepared to answer a call

I am often alone on training rides
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Old 09-16-13, 09:07 PM
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I've heard reports from other riders using PCH that Newport Beach Police will issue tickets for dual earbud headphone use.
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Old 09-16-13, 11:17 PM
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I use earbuds a lot, primarily during long/boring/painful rides, but it's usually Audible rather than music. I pulled off the Strava CTS Bucket List challenge (574 miles in 2 weeks) and did the most recent double with substantial help from Michael Connelly and John Scalzi. I use the LG HBS700 bluetooth headset (an ingenious device, in my opinion, but way underrated - I only saw a few other people ever wearing it.)
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Old 09-16-13, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Chaco
I don't wear earbuds, not because I think they're especially unsafe (except in a group ride), but because I would rather enjoy the ride rather than music.
+1.

I do think it's unsafe to wear earbuds while riding, but if it wasn't, I would still ride with open ears because like you, I'd rather enjoy the ride than music. It's the same when I drive. I usually leave the stereo off and listen to the engine instead.
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Old 09-17-13, 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
Back to the OP's original question -

What about those head phones that sort of sit near your ears rather than ON your ears. I've seen little helmet speakers and I recently picked up a Cardo BK-1 duo intercom system so I can ride with my son and he can blabber the whole time. The head phones are physically mounted to the helmet and sit off the ears a bit. Do those things count?
No, they don't count.

It is a technicality that lets it slip by.
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Old 09-17-13, 06:47 AM
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seems like every year some dumb kid wearing headphones gets killed by a train

I only wear one in my right ear with volume turned down. Saturday I forgot to bring music and didn't even notice
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Old 09-17-13, 07:08 AM
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I would say that even if they are not illegal where you are, it is stupid to remove one of your senses which could warn you of danger. When riding, ride. Listen to the environment and be safe.

To answer the point about deaf people riding, the fact is that deaf people have adjusted to not being able to hear and are more cautious, so are in fact usually safer than hearing riders. When you can normally hear and therefore can respond to dangers alerted to you by sound, but stick buds in your ears and add music, then you become far more likely to make a mistake.

Ear buds (in fact any music while riding) - just say NO!
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