Should Cyclist be Banned from Wearing Earphones?

Seemingly having nothing better to do with the licence payers money, the BBC recently ran a poll in which nearly 90% of people would back a ban on cyclists wearing headphones.

The poll, part of a cycle safety series on BBC Breakfast, found 89% of people would back a ban on wearing headphones whilst cycling due to the effects on concentration levels.  This is backed by research by Brunel University which found that listening to music reduces the amount of attention available by around 10%, increasing the likelihood of an accident.

This has caused something of an outcry from some cyclists.  On the pro side the need to be able to hear traffic noise around you and then being able to respond accordingly has been much flaunted.  On the anti side there is much talk of the nanny state.  Some bemoan the fact that cyclist seem to be being portrayed as irresponsible and others  point out that most motorists have even less chance of hearing what is going on around them than cyclists, with or without headphones on.  And how many of the 90% would also back a ban on playing music in cars?

In the past Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has spoken out against cyclists wearing earphones, referring to them as “an absolute scourge”.  Mr Johnson continued, “Call me illiberal, but it makes me absolutely terrified to see them bowling along unable to hear the traffic.”   Possibly a touch of hypocrisy considering the photo below.

Utlimately though, if earphones are going to affect concentration and cause an accident it is fairly clear who is likely to get hurt as a result.

The eagle eyed would have spotted that as well as cycling whilst on the phone Boris is also not wearing a helmet.  Some would argue that is a greater safety issue for cyclists.  Perhaps helmets need to be looked at before earphones?  Ooops!  Sorry!  Worms everywhere…