On my daily commute, I bike through a Frogger-worthy array of door-opening drivers, bike-lane-blocking taxis, and heedless jaywalkers. And then there are the other cyclists, my allies in obstacle avoidance. In the seconds after dodging the chrome-plated kiss of some cellphone yakker’s Toyota 4Runner, it’s soothing to glide over to a fellow rider and whisper, “Did you see that asshole?!?” At least it would be soothing, if my comrade-on-wheels could hear me. Most days, I ride past more than one biker who’s cruising around with her ears plugged up. Cyclists, please hear me out: If you’re wearing headphones, you’re as much of an idiot as that guy in the 4Runner.
There are very few occasions these days when portable electronic devices are considered off limits. (At last check, we were down to select funerals, art-house movies, and the first and last 10 minutes of air travel.) In an age when earbuds are removed only while bathing—and don’t worry, we have the technology to solve this problem—the bicycle lies in a gray zone of quasi-connectedness.