TCI Friday is a question and answer thing. We pose the question. You give the answers.
I tried to do research and couldn’t. Patrick had asked, on The Paceline, about riding with headphones, or earbuds more specifically, and I tried to open my mind to consider scenarios in which it would be ok for me. I even suggested to him, that if he was going to ride with earbuds in, he should try a pair with a “transparency” mode that lets external sound in as well. I have a pair of Klipsch T5 Sport wireless earbuds with this feature, but as I said, above, I couldn’t bring myself to ride with them in.
Before we go further, I want to make clear that I’m not telling you not to listen to music, or audio books, for that matter, while you ride your bike. You’re a grown up (probably), and you can make that call for yourself. I’m just saying that I don’t feel as though I can give bike riding what it deserves, in terms of attention, while I’ve got extraneous sounds playing in my ears.
And before we go even further, I’m going to admit that, if you are wearing the headphones it’s not for me to tell you not to wear, AND you do something stupid as a result, I probably will judge you for it. So to be clear, I’m not against the behavior, but if the behavior leads to bad outcomes I will not be surprised and I will likely think you’re dumb.
But before we go even further than we’ve been going up to this point, I’m dumb too. I make dumb mistakes on the bike and off. I understand fully the appeal of listening to some good music or catching up on a book or a podcast while you are also exercising. If and when you make the dumb mistake, I will think you’re dumb, but also likely identify with you on a deep, human level.
My basic feeling is this though: I don’t feel safe with headphones in/on. I don’t feel confident that I can adequately respect the needs of other riders/walkers/runners while I’m distracted by music or other. I’m not convinced that it’s a good idea to eschew the sounds of nature if they are available to me. I know we should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, but I tend to enjoy the gum much more if I’m seated and chewing contemplatively.
That’s me. And gum.
So this week’s TCI Friday wonders if it is ok to ride with headphones in? Do you do it? Do you like it? Do you disapprove? Is there any situation, other than stationary, on a trainer, in a basement or other secondary living space, where it’s ok?