The Question: Does Boris Johnson think there’s a difference between a deaf cyclist and a distracted cyclist?

Posted on November 21, 2013

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.

He said:

“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:

She said:

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.

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