In the wake of an increased number of cyclist deaths in London, Mayor Boris Johnson gave an interview on BBC Radio London 94.9 in which he suggested that part of the dangers that cyclists on London’s roads faced was not being able to hear traffic due to the use of headphones for listening to music.
“Call me illiberal, but it makes me absolutely terrified to see them bowling along unable to hear the traffic.
“You’ve got to be able to hear that car behind you or about to come out of the road in front of you.”
The comments Mr Johnson made about cyclists not being able to hear traffic were also picked up by the Independent columnist Fran Yeoman who wrote supporting Mr Johnson’s views on being able to hear and ride, citing her own experience:
It is all the more scary because I used to do it – until I realised with a fright that I was not only unable to hear everything I needed to but at times dangerously distracted.
We wanted to clarify if Mr Johnson was suggesting that the idea of deaf people cycling terrified him. A spokesman for the Mayor told us:
“I think the mayor was making a wider point on cyclists concentrating on what they’re doing while on the road. Its not about making a distinction between hearing people or deaf people, he was making a wider point about having full attention on what you’re doing. Listening to loud music is more likely to mean that a cyclists attention is not fully on the road.”
So now it’s over to you. What’s the difference between a deaf cyclist and a hearing cyclist who is listening to music? Is it that a deaf cyclist has enhanced visual awareness? Or is it not the absence of the sound of traffic, but the distraction of the music that puts hearing cyclists in danger? Does it simply depend on the person riding the bike or are deaf cyclists at an increased risk? Is this all just nonsense?
Let us know your view in the comments.
Check out what our supporters provide: Phonak: innovative technology and products in hearing acoustics. Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support. Ai-Live: Live captions and transcripts. 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services. Signworld: online BSL learning and teaching materials. STAGETEXT: theatre captioning. Krazy Kat: visual theatre with BSL. SignHealth: healthcare support for Deaf people. Deafinitely Theatre: theatre from a Deaf perspective.Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support. SDHH: Deaf television programmes online. Sign Solutions:, language and learning. Lexicon Signstream: BSL interpreting and communication services. Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting. Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children. RAD Deaf Law Centre: and legal advice for Deaf people.
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. How to make Live Automated Captions with Apple’s Latest 'Clips' App
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Cast Theatre, Doncaster: The UK's the UK’s first fully BSL integrated pantomime
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Sign Solutions:, language and learning
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people