While driving to work this morning, I passed a bicycle commuter. Life as a bicycle commuter in Northern Virginia is hard. Its harder when you’re stupid. The guy I passed was riding a road bike and was fully-decked out in cycling gear. Very cool. He was peddling along Minnieville Road – a four lane road JAMMED with rush hour traffic. There is absolutely no shoulder on this road – just a gutter and a curb. I wondered how this guy would manage staying upright as the traffic became bumper to bumper at a stoplight. The answer was simple – he just swerved from the gutter-side of the street between two cars and onto the dashed line seperating two lanes.
And all the while doing this, the guy was wearing earphones. I didn’t have my camera with me, so I grabbed some stock footage just to jazz up this post, but you get my drift. He was wearing an iPod holder on his arm in the manner common amongst walkers and joggers. So while executing dangerous manuevers in rush-hour traffic in limited visibility, our hero was jamming to Lady Gaga, his favorite cycling podcast or Lord-knows-what.
He’s lucky he didn’t end up like this.
It is generally understood by most cyclists that automobiles are trying to kill them. Cyclists are extremely disadvantaged in the contest between car and bike, so I can’t imagine why anyone would further disadvantage himself by removing one of his senses.
iPod has added fuel to the fire by marketing a handlebar mount. The advert innocently depicts an iPod being used as a GPS, with no headphones attached. I suspect the actual number of cyclists who use this product SOLELY in this configuration is a number approaching zero.
I read about cyclists who enjoy listening to music while they ride. As for me, I would prefer to hear what is going on around me. The roads in Northern Virginia are particularly nasty, but even on the trails, I would like to hear the occassional “Passing on your left.” Someone may only utter a phrase like, “Excuse me, Sir, but the bridge is out around the bend!” once every 20 years, but when it is said to me I’d like to hear it.