Deaf Riders

Baxter's Dad

New Member
Seven months ago I suddenly lost between 95%-98% of my hearing in both ears in a matter of 48 hours. After lots of doctor visits, probing, medications, CAT scans, and an exploratory spinal tap the prognosis was the loss is permanent and there is no clear reason why. I was fitted with very expensive hearing aids that give me sort of a digital amplification. It's far from normal hearing, but it lets me somewhat function. I misunderstand about 50% of the conversations. They say blindness takes away things, but deafness takes away people. I became isolated and avoided contact with people in general.

I recently started riding again after discovering the world of Ebikes. I enjoy being out and getting exercise and fresh air. My riding is on somewhat busy suburban and city streets. My hearing aids produce a strong wind noise so I turn them down or off completely. I worry that riding without being able to hear traffic, especially coming from behind, is dangerous. I did buy a good handlebar-mounted mirror but I worry if it's enough.

Are there any other hearing-impaired riders who ride in traffic?
 
I'm really happy for you that you found ebiking! I don't personally know other hearing impaired ebikers, but posting here is a good way to show the diversity of ebikers and hopefully find some others who share your experiences.

On the wind noise--I have these contraptions that attach to my helmet straps that change the way air flows around my head. They help with wind noise. I don't know if they would help in your case.

On mirrors: I have a helmet mirror that I LOVE, and am glad to recommend (I have no connection to the company except as a satisfied customer). I think this is much more effective than a handlebar mirror, if you can adapt well to it:
 
do not worry i drove for years with no hearing just pay attention all the time and look everywhere ! but one time two people were racing i was stopped at a red light and he slide sideways about ten feet from me trying too stop in biking ten feet is like 10 miles you get hit or dont get hit
 
Baxter's Dad
I know what you are going thru, I have an 80%+ hearing loss in both ears, hearing devices I gave up on, it seems my eyesight is getting sharper and I notice things a lot quicker. I have dual mirrors and use them a lot on every ride.
I hate surprised cars coming up behind me. I have to use the county roadways to get to anywhere I want to ride, Or I load my bike and drive to a rideable area.
Keep on pedaling......I am with you.
Don
 
I might recommend a rear radar light like a Garmin Varia 515:


I have one, and in addition to making a warning sound (which you may or may not be able to hear, given your hearing loss) if a car is approaching from behind, it also vibrates (which you should be able to feel if it’s in your pocket or mounted on the handlebars). In addition, if you have it paired to a bike computer or your phone, the display lights up in a different color when a car is approaching from behind. To be clear: I wouldn’t recommend only using this radar, but combined with a mirror and whatever other aids you may want to use, it might help.

Note: I’ve found that the Varia 515 does occasionally register “false positives:” that it, it will sometimes bleep/vibrate when there’s not in fact a car moving up behind you; it’s not always smart enough to distinguish between a car about to overtake you and, say, a fence behind you: it just scans for sufficiently large hunks of metal. But I’ve found that it only very seldom gives false negatives: that is, I can only recall a couple of occasions when a car was coming behind me but it wasn’t detected (and when that happened, it was either because the car was coming very fast and/or coming around a blind curve behind me such that the radar didn’t pick it up til it was nearly next to me). Again, this was only on 2-3 occasions out of hundreds of rides; but it’s not foolproof, which is why I always use it in conjunction with a mirror.

P.S.: I am not hearing impaired, so I hope other folks who are post some suggestions. I have to think that there are hearing aids designed for this purpose that can still assist your hearing but filter out the wind noise. In reflecting on this, I realized how much I actually rely on both sound and vision while biking to be able to detect approaching traffic …
 
My Varia 510/511 gives so many false alerts I parked the display, and only use the sensor as a really good taillight. Trucks on the freeway through a chain link fence, about 8 lanes to the side, WARNING WARNING WARNING Cars approaching a 4 way stop from the side, that I passed two blocks ago. Lawnmowers in a yard, harvesters in a field 500' away. Cars in the left turn lane 3 lanes over, when I am riding on the sidewalk. Useless piece of garbage.
 
My Varia 510/511 gives so many false alerts I parked the display, and only use the sensor as a really good taillight. Trucks on the freeway through a chain link fence, about 8 lanes to the side, WARNING WARNING WARNING Cars approaching a 4 way stop from the side, that I passed two blocks ago. Lawnmowers in a yard, harvesters in a field 500' away. Cars in the left turn lane 3 lanes over, when I am riding on the sidewalk. Useless piece of garbage.
That’s not been my experience with my 515.
 
I also have moderate hearing loss and share your concerns.
I use the EVT safety zone helmet mirror recommended by @ebikemom above. It is the largest helmet mirror available, and provides a great field of view.

I also highly recommend cat-ears wind noise suppressors.
They work very well to suppress wind noise without affecting other sounds around you.

These two products have made a world of difference to my riding safety and overall enjoyment of the sport.
 
My Varia 510/511 gives so many false alerts I parked the display, and only use the sensor as a really good taillight. Trucks on the freeway through a chain link fence, about 8 lanes to the side, WARNING WARNING WARNING Cars approaching a 4 way stop from the side, that I passed two blocks ago. Lawnmowers in a yard, harvesters in a field 500' away. Cars in the left turn lane 3 lanes over, when I am riding on the sidewalk. Useless piece of garbage.
That’s not been my experience with my 515.
I have had good luck with my 515 as well. The range is definitely over 100 yards and it seems to accurately distinguish multiple vehicles. The light blinking when vehicles approach also makes you more noticeable. Although I mount my phone to the handlebars, I can easily feel the vibration alerts through the grips.

Curious what Baxter's Dad finally decided on and how it has performed for him.
 
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