Now, you should start with knowing that I do not own an iPod or an iPhone or any other MP3 player. On purpose. I came to realize, along the way, that being stuck in a musical world is separating yourself from the visceral experience of being there. And, while sometimes that's a good thing, my life doesn't need a soundtrack. If I want to listen to music, I'll do it in my cube at work or at home, and in both places, I've got either speakers or headphones and a computer to listen off of. And so, I'm iPod free and couldn't be happier about it.
Yes, my wife does have to remind me that I'm not all people sometimes.
I got myself a new cycling jersey, to celebrate that I can wear a cycling jersey and not look Fred, and it's got a special MP3 player pocket. I showed it to the boss (who, as regular readers know, is a hardcore triathlete) and the first thing out of his mouth after asking about the back pockets was along the lines of "MP3 pocket? As if we didn't have enough trouble with getting run over already!"
At least in California, it's illegal to ride any vehicle, bikes included, with headphones on. People do it, but it's dumb.
Now, I wouldn't suggest that a hearing-impaired person shouldn't bike. After all, we don't yank the driver's license of deaf people in America. You can even get a pilot's license without hearing. To suggest otherwise is dumb. Just that, like it or not, whatever hearing you DO have is going to make you safer if you have it available. I recognize that I can't rely on my hearing to know if there's a car behind me, but if I hear a car behind me, it's probably really there. Same reason why you carry tools even though you can get away without them. It helps.
On the other hand, when you aren't interfacing with traffic, like riding an exercise bike or running or any number of other activities, there's no reason why you shouldn't be allowed to listen to MP3s. I did it all the time with a cassette-tape walkman when I was a kid and did it safely.
It's also, as far as I'm concerned, a tragedy once you get away from the city streets, to not hear the sounds of nature. This is part of why I bike out to the wilderness.
So now I've got a jersey with a pocket that I don't have any use for. I wonder what I should use it for...