Riding in Traffic and Deafness

Yesterday I visited the Hansaton Office here in Taipei to meet the Taiwanese representatives for the first time. Nicky was the main point of contact for me and assisted me with the adjustment of my hearing aids and made an appointment for fitting of a new set of hearing aids – with the award winning Espria system. It is the world’s smallest hearing behind-the-ear aid and comes equipped with blue-tooth technology. I am quite excited to be trying out this new product finally. Although my fear is that it might not be powerful, for me (as my hearing loss is 90 decibels and higher), enough for general usage. It may be ideal for the quiet situations such as using the lap-top, television, phone and other media systems.
I won’t be able to use this system whilst out riding, as it is too delicate and would be ultra sensitive to the sweat I put out whilst training.

People often wonder how I cope with being Deaf and riding in traffic. Often they are amazed that I would still venture out as in their minds, riding without hearing is dangerous. Most people rely on their hearing to hear approaching traffic, while I have to rely on my visual ability to survive on training rides amongst traffic.

Tips for riding in traffic without hearing:

  • Always be on the look-out and be proactive – I am constantly checking behind and around me for on-coming traffic
  • Be confident and use hand-signals/eye contact with drivers. You will find that most drivers let you into spaces if you let them know early enough about your intentions. When a driver lets you into space that they could have claimed, always thank them with the thumbs up gesture (works well in most countries)
  • Ride predictably and in straight lines. This works for hearing people too, although they can react to approaching noise by moving out of the way

For the most part, I don’t have any major issues when out riding due to my hearing loss. Sometimes I don’t even have my hearing aids on, but hearing nothing at all does not affect me. I will also race without hearing aids, depending on the weather (raining or too hot). Sometimes, I get yelled at in the peloton, but I have no idea what they are yelling about. I will wear one hearing aid mostly so that if someone does talk to me, I can at least communicate. In group rides, I will try to wear both hearing aids and participate in the social aspect of the ride as much as I can.


  1. FLATULENTFRIEND 11 November, 2009
  2. Daniel Sato 11 November, 2009
  3. Daniel 11 November, 2009

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