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Music may help cycling performance, but is it a safety risk?

Does listening to your favorite song on your bike really give you that extra boost? Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated during a training ride, and the music helps keep you from slacking off. If you care about being in top shape, you think of music as the catalyst to get you there.

Or, maybe you don't care about performance. You just ride for fun or as a means of transportation. It's cheaper than a car and far better for the environment. For you, the music -- or podcasts, audiobooks or whatever you listen to -- is just a way to pass the time. It's fun and enjoyable. It keeps you from getting bored on those long rides.

Either way, you enjoy listening to music and you don't see any downside. Well, you need to know that there may be one: your safety. Even this argument isn't that clear-cut, however. There are two sides to consider.

Isolation

Listening to music on your bike puts you in a bubble. This can make you feel alone and isolated, even in a crowd of people. Some believe it makes you less responsive to dangers and unaware of the risks around you. There is both the mental side of this distraction and the purely auditory side.

For instance, maybe a car should wait at a stop sign for you to go by on your bike. You see the car and assume it will wait, so you look farther down the street. The driver doesn't see you, though, and hits the gas as you go by. Without your music playing, you would hear the engine rev and you could try to avoid a crash. With the music going, you don't hear anything until the car hits you.

A calming impact

However, for those riding in a city like New York, some researchers suggest that music may actually help. They point to the way that all of the sensory data in the city -- lights, sights, sounds, smells, etc. -- can feel overwhelming and chaotic. It can cause a rider to panic or ride in an anxious, stressed out state that may cause them to make mistakes. They have trouble processing everything.

With music on, it can calm them down. It cuts back on the overload and means that they have to process less data. This allows them to reduce stress levels and focus on things that matter: traffic lights, cars, pedestrians in the street and much more. At the end of the day, this "distraction" helps them ride safely and may prevent accidents.

After an accident

No matter which side you take, one thing is clear: Cyclists face accident risks in New York. If a driver hits you, it is critical that you know how to seek compensation for your medical bills and related costs.

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Mallilo & Grossman, Attorneys at Law

Mallilo & Grossman, Attorneys at Law
163-09 Northern Blvd
Flushing, NY 11358

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