I go out riding in the mornings, before work. I get on the road and trail about 7am. My route takes me along the edge of a golf course where there is a dual-use bike and pedestrian path. People also walk their dogs on it.
I often come up behind people running or walking, and I ring my bell to warn them of my approach. Yes, I have a bell on my handlebars, and I use it all the time. It is made of brass and has a very pleasant ring. And most of the time–nearly all of the time–nothing happens. By which I mean the runners or walkers have no reaction. There is no reaction BECAUSE THEY HAVE EAR BUDS IN THEIR EARS AND THEY CANNOT HEAR ME OR MY BELL. They are listening to music, or NPR, or a podcast I guess. They are not hearing anything from their surroundings. They do not hear the cars going to work, they do not hear the construction workers beginning their days, they do not hear the lawnmowers on the golf course. I get that those noises interfere with their enjoyment. But they also don’t hear the birds chirping their good morning songs, or the wind whistling through the trees. They don’t hear the squish of their feet on the path, or their breath as it enters their lungs.
When I go outdoors to exercise, I want to see and hear as much as I can. I am out there, IN the outdoors, and I want to experience it all. The last thing I want to do is to shut it out, or block it off, by plugging things in my ears and blasting music or listening to someone talking. When I am outside I want all my senses enjoying the outdoors.
It’s also safer to be able to hear your surroundings. When I am riding I can hear cars and trucks, and dogs, and other riders coming up behind me. I use those sounds to stay safe. I also use sounds, like my voice and my bell, to warn others of my presence, in order to keep them safe.
When the people I share my morning exercise outdoors with are plugged in and tuned out, I feel less safe, and worry about frightening these people into doing something stupid by surprising them as I pass them. I just wish they would unplug and enjoy the morning.