top of page

Safer Cycling

Don't let sound masking wind noise Interfere with situational awareness and communications.

"Cyclists: The Car That Will Kill You Is the One You Don't See.  major study by the League of American Bicyclists finds that the most likely type of fatal bicycle crash is 'motorist overtaking bicycle' - that is, being struck from behind (accounting for 40 percent of fatalities)." - Sierra Magazine

"It has been said that 'the purpose of the ears is to point the eyes'.  While the ability of the auditory system to localize sound sources is just one component of our perceptual systems, it has high survival value." - Quoted from the ECE Department, University of California

"I turn my head about 20-30° to reduce wind noise when talking or listening to someone on a ride.  However, this probably isn't a good technique for long conversations or watching where you're going."Road Bike Review cycling forum member comment

"The average person facing a 21 mph wind experiences wind noise at an intensity of 92 dB."

(Experiments on the Noise Heard by Human Beings when Exposed to Atmospheric Winds, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway)

"We use our hearing as an early warning system, and hearing swiftly redirects our vision.  This shift in gaze is critical to our capacity to assess the location, direction of travel, and velocity of approaching vehicles.  In addition, visual perception is more accurate / faster when the visual stimulus is paired with an auditory one."

  • Wind Noise alters the threshold of hearing, masks, and impacts the perception of sounds.

  • The Wind Noise Spectrum is predominantly low frequency - similar to road and traffic noise.

wind noise.JPG
Speech Interference

Excessive wind noise can interfere with communications, which can cause annoyance and irritation.  When verbal communications are difficult, the likelihood of miscommunications increases.  It is common for a person to raise his / her voice when the background noise is high.  Typically, a person raises his / her voice by 3 ~ 6 dB for every 10 dB increase in background noise level above 50 dBA.  Age-related hearing loss can also have an impact.

Distance Interference

When localizing a sound source, we are best at estimating direction, next best at estimating elevation, and worst at estimating distance.  The difficulty of making auditory judgments of distance to a sound source in an open space has been recognized for many years.  The combination of loudness, knowledge of the source, and previous sound presentation experience, provide information for judging the distance of the approaching sound source.   ​

Drivers 'Cone of Vision'

Driving speed has a dramatic effect on a drivers 'cone of vision'. As speed increases, peripheral vision decreases.


At higher speeds, drivers tend to be focused on where they are going and less aware of cyclists in the periphery.


Hearing approaching vehicles ~50% sooner provides cyclists with an opportunity to prepare to be passed safely.

"The most common collision type in our Every Bicyclist Counts data is a rear-end collision. Approximately 40% of fatalities in our data with reported collision types were rear-end collisions. This is higher than what was found in the 2010 FARS release that included PBCAT-based crash types (27% of fatal crashes with reported collision types), although the crash type 'motorist overtaking bicyclist' was the most common collision type in that data as well." - League of American Bicyclists



Reducing wind noise makes cycling safer and more enjoyable.

bottom of page