November 5, 2007
USA Track and Field is getting some press as more races
enforce the rule about no MP3 players for runners who
compete. The rule is as follows:
"The visible possession or use by athletes of video or
audio cassette recorders or players, TV's, CD or DVD
players, radio transmitters or receivers, mobile phones,
computers or any similar devices in the competition area
shall not be permitted."
For runners who train with their music, it can be difficult
to give it up for a race, especially those who train for
longer races, such as marathons. Race organizers insist
that the rules exist for the safety of the runners.
"'Runners have to be aware, and it's harder to be aware
when you're wearing headphones,' [Grandma's Marathon
executive director Scott Keenan] said. 'We have two races
sharing the same course, and there's a lot of movement --
other runners, wheelchair racers, timing trucks, media
vans, official motorcycles, emergency vehicles, official
bicyclists, volunteers. There are dangerous situations and
runners should be using all their senses to be safe.'"
With thousands (or even just hundreds) of people all
running together, it makes sense that race organizers would
want racers to be able to hear their surroundings and be
more aware of possible hazards. Some runners agree, while
others find the music is what helps them stay focused and
paced throughout their races.
"Ian Nurse ... is also ready for the 4.2-mile race, which
he almost won in 2005, without music. 'It's easier to
think,' he explains, 'and be more focused on the running.'
... At the same time, runners post playlists online.
Websites ... list songs' beats per minute so runners can
match their stride -- Maroon 5's 'This Love' at 94 beats
per minute for a warm-up, Billy Idol's 'Dancing With
Myself' at 176 for a faster pace."
Some might think that it is just a matter of opinion, and
those who prefer music can have it, while those who don't
like it can do without.
"While some contestants take a live-and-let-live attitude,
others complain of runners who can't hear someone trying to
pass them. 'There definitely is a sort of tension,' says
David Mak, 38, a software developer from Jamaica Plain who
runs without music. 'I'm there to soak in the atmosphere of
the race. When you have a headset on, you're there to tune
everything else out.'"
It is the tuning out of everything else that is the
problem. Not just when hundreds or thousands of runners all
try to go the same place at the same time, but even when
one person (runner, walker, or cyclist) tries to cross the
"[February 2007] A state senator from Brooklyn said on
Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation that would ban
people from using an MP3 player, cell phone, Blackberry or
any other electronic device while crossing the street in
New York City and Buffalo. ... Sen. Carl Kruger is
proposing the ban in response to two recent pedestrian
deaths in his district, including a 23-year-old man who was
struck and killed last month while listening to his iPod on
Avenue T and East 71st Street In Bergen Beach. ... "While
people are tuning into their iPods and cell phones, they're
tuning out the world around them," Kruger said. ... Some
pedestrians said they were not worried about their safety
while using their electronic devices while walking. 'I look
for the light,' said Venus Montes of Williamsburg. 'I'm
still looking,' said Lance Gordon of Far Rockaway. 'It's
not like I'm not paying attention.' ... Some pedestrians
think the proposal was a good idea. 'It's too dangerous,'
said Nicole Lake of Jersey City. 'Drivers don't pay
attention and pedestrians don't pay attention.'"
Distracted driving is an issue in and of itself. Distracted
walking, while it may not get as much press, can be just as
"The death of an 18-year-old Grimsby student hit by a train
on Saturday does not appear to have deterred other youths
in the area from walking along the same train tracks on
which he died. ... The Grimsby Secondary School student was
wearing his MP3 player earphones at the time and did not
respond to repeated whistles from the train or warnings
from people nearby trying to alert him."
Many people like their MP3 players because they allow the
ability to tune out the world, or they allow the listeners
to focus on what they are listening to. These positive
qualities are just the ones that make them so dangerous.
"Police informed bikers on campus last week that officers
would begin to crack down on cyclists this week for running
stop signs and listening to music on headphones.
Representatives from the Stanford University Department of
Public Safety (DPS), however, maintain that the
aforementioned laws have been in effect for years ...
Because the California Vehicle Code states that bicycle
riders have the same rights and responsibilities as motor
vehicle drivers, cyclists are, therefore, subject to the
same citations and fines. ... 'These laws exist for the
safety of bicyclists, pedestrians as well as others on the
The Stanford Daily
Questions of the Week:
When (and how) can MP3 players, cell phones, and other
personal electronic devices help people to be more active
and lead to healthier lifestyles? When (and how) can they
help create situations that are potentially more dangerous?
What regulations should exist for those walking, running,
and/ or cycling while using MP3 players (and cell phones)?
Regardless of rules and regulations, what should you and
your peers be doing to help ensure a safer situation on the
roads (bike paths, sidewalks, train tracks, etc.) for all
who are traveling there? What do your think your peers and
family members know about these safety issues, and what
should they know?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum