James Daley: Cyclotherapy

A A A

People always seem horrified when I talk about the delights of cycling with my iPod on. Surely riding a bike in London is already dangerous enough, they say. How can you possibly hear the traffic over the top of the music you're listening to? Some have even gone so far as to suggest it should be made illegal, arguing that a cyclist who is not fully armed with all their five senses is a danger to themselves and other road users. But to my mind, this is all so much nonsense.

I've been riding around the streets of London with headphones on for more than three years and, while I've had the odd accident, none has been caused by my impaired hearing. Although I actually don't have my music so loud that I can't hear any of the noise from the road, I can honestly say that if I was rendered permanently deaf tomorrow, I'd be no worse a cyclist.

In fact, I'd go so far as to argue that not being able to hear the noise of the road makes me a safer rider – forcing me to check what's coming from behind when I pull out, never letting myself rely on just my hearing. Other bikes and electric cars can creep up on you all too quietly, especially if there's already noise from other vehicles.

As I've written before in this column, my golden rule of city cycling is to try to get eye contact with every driver so that I know they've seen me, and I know that they're not going to knock me off. When eye contact's not possible, the next rule is to assume that every driver is about to make the worst possible manoeuvre they could.

If I'm approaching a left turn, for example, I assume that any car on my right is most likely to cut across me without indicating. While this may happen only once every 10 times, the only way to ensure you don't unseated is to prepare for the worst.

Likewise, if I'm riding down the inside of a line of traffic, I'll assume that the cars are about to edge in towards the kerb. Hence, unless the traffic is stationary, I'll switch to overtaking down the outside, or I'll take up a position in the middle of the road.

None of this requires me to use my ears – and that's great, as I'm not sure how I'd manage without my music on my way to work and back. Getting yourself going on a cold morning can be pretty hard – but a few rousing tracks from my iPod go a long way towards putting me in the right mood. Similarly, if it's hammering down with rain, the one saving grace that stops my commute being a complete misery is my music.

I'm sure some of you will know people who have had accidents while wearing their headphones, but I doubt that in most cases the incident was caused by their impaired hearing. Riding in Britain's cities is dangerous – but as long as you follow a few simple rules, it's easy enough to stay alive, even with an iPod on.

cycling@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Manager / New Product Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company mission is to be th...

Recruitment Genius: Software Tester

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Tester is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Developer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The Company sells mobile video advertising sol...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have a vacancy within our ra...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project