Top of the afternoon to all...
When I do my two weeks a year with the Navy, I go to Marine Corps Base Quantico. Most of you do not know Marines. Marines run. They can be seen at all times of the day on the running tracks and paths throughout every USMC base.
MCB Quantico has safety rules that govern this. If out running, walking, or cycling, it is required to wear reflective gear. As well, the use of earbuds is forbidden. These are smart rules.
I have tried an experiment a few times. I get consistent results. When I am coming up on someone, as always, I ring my bell. Without fail, the people with earbuds have not heard me. This is dangerous to them. It is dangerous to me as a cyclist.
It is dangerous to them because there are other people they may not hear. Such people may just be clumsy, or they may have nefarious intent. In either event, the shortened time for a reaction can have consequences.
As well, there is a danger to me. Humans naturally have a startle reflex. If that reflex occurs when a cyclist has passed, the cyclist and the walker (or the other cyclist) could get hurt.
Folks, I have heretofore written only about potential negative results between a cyclist and a walker. If we add in cars to this equation, we have gone from possible injury to possible fatality.
My friends, take the earbuds out. Listen to the birds sing. Their music is as lovely as anything you will hear on the ipod. Listen to the cars drive by. Listen to the people around you. And if you miss a phone call, the world will continue.