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Caught in Amsterdam by the Prudent Cyclist on flickr

As a follow up to Elizabeth’s article on TWB (Texting While Biking) I have always wondered about Biking With Headphones (BWH)!  There are several methods of executing the BWH for bike commuters.  Some wear equipment that would be impossible to wear with a helmet (perhaps they are commuting to their job as jackhammer/leafblower testing facility), some use tiny earbuds, and there’s always the one-in and one-out set up.  I’ve tried commuting before with one-in and one-out earbud shenanigans with my crappy ibroke, but I usually ended up shoving it in a side pocket and singing out loud instead.  Like acapella karaoke commuting.

But Holy Moly Me Oh My, Montreal police have taken steps towards “enforcing” the no BWH laws as described by this article from July 2011, titled Cyclists Warned that Headphones Illegal in Quebec. The article cited that in 2010, the police ticketed 296 cyclists for this infraction.  At a price of $52 (Canadian) per ticket, that’s a whole lotta cash for poutine!

At least the cops are on their bikes, right?

Quebec’s highway safety code prohibits riding a bicycle while wearing a personal stereo headset or earphones. It’s the only Canadian jurisdiction where it’s illegal to ride while listening to headphones.

In the U.S., Florida and Rhode Island have made it illegal to use headsets while cycling. California, Maryland and Delaware also regulate use of headphones or earbuds. In those states, cyclists must leave one ear uncovered while riding.

…Police will continue to warn cyclists about the hazards of riding with earphones in July and expect to start handing out more tickets in August…Police said Wednesday that headphones make it more difficult for a cyclist to be aware of their surroundings as they move through traffic and pedestrians.

Oregon attempted to pass a similar bill HB 2602 that would fine cyclists using headphones a whopping $90!  No dice in passing the bill just yet according to BikePortland.org.

Then there’s the California Legislation where riding with one headphone is okay, but two will put you in the hole for $189 according to the Davis Wiki Bicycling Tips. Or there’s this girl who’s found a loophole:

Anyway bike commuters, whaddya think?  People drive cars and listen to their stereos all the time while stuck in traffic.  Plus cycling to music can be some good old fashioned fun.   Are headphones in the same “danger zone” as texting while cycling?  And, if so, does it warrant $189 fine?  I know the state is broke and all, but that’s a lot of In-n-Out cash right there.