Auditory perception may be of great importance for cyclists, especially when visual information is not available. Research shows that listening to music while cycling impairs cyclists’ perception of relevant traffic sounds, which may decrease cyclists’ awareness of approaching vehicles. If the impaired auditory perception is not compensated by the cyclist himself or other road users involved, crashes may occur. This study investigates whether cyclists who listen to music adapt their visual behaviour. Fourteen teenage cyclists (16-18 years old), who frequently listened to music while cycling, participated in the study. During two of their regular trips in urban environments along the same route (for example from home to school), cyclists’ glance behaviour was monitored using a head-mounted eye-tracker. During one of the trips, cyclists were listening to music of their choice and at their preferred volume (music condition); during the other trip they were ‘just’ cycling (baseline condition). Results show that when crossing an uncontrolled intersection, baseline and music conditions were similar with regard to glance behaviour. These findings suggest that cyclists listening to music do not increase their visual attention in situations that are crucial for their safety. Implications for cycling safety are discussed.
Glance behaviour of teenage cyclists when listening to music: results of a study in real traffic
Proceedings of the International Cycling Safety Conference 2015, 15-16 September 2015, Hannover, Germany