Although in a rush to cross the road, I knew better (this time) to mess with the traffic. 5.30pm is a time for busy minds. I calmed mine and took myself and my bike to wait at the pedestrian lights.
I crossed to the opposite footpath on sight of the ‘green man’. Walking towards my destination, my local supermarket, I noticed two things. A cyclist making his way up toward me in the bus lane. And a lady walking toward the edge of the footpath to cross the road.
She was wearing earphones.
The lady clearly saw stationery traffic in her frontal view. She was around 50 yards shy of the pedestrian lights that had stopped the traffic. Assuming it was safe, she crossed the road. She never looked right to check the bus lane.
The fast-approaching cyclist attempted to slow down and veered right toward the stationery traffic, in a bid to avoid the lady. The lady continued walking onwards. Although doing their best, the cyclist could not prevent a collision.
Thankfully, it was only a minor one. Free of injuries, not of fright.
The lady, shook, apologised profusely.
‘I did not see you, I’m so sorry’
Perhaps a more comprehensive interpretation of her words could be:
‘I was distracted by what I was listening to. Therefore, I did not, inexplicably, even think to check the bus lane for any traffic. I’m so sorry. I am so lucky’
What are the relevant stats?
According to Sport Ireland research in 2020, there are 500,000 regular walkers, 450,000 regular runners and 220,000 regular cyclists in Ireland. In 2019, the Irish Examiner reported that almost 40% of Irish people listened to podcasts monthly.
These two stats combined suggests that there is a strong possibility that a lot of people are listening to podcasts in Ireland, whilst active outdoors. This is not even to take into consideration those listening to music whilst active outdoors. Which would be wise to do so, given there are 600,000 paid subscribers to Spotify in Ireland.
This possibility above is validated by stark 2019 research by US Artificial Intelligence Company, Audio Analytic, as reported by Real Wire Media. It’s research showed that an incredible 37 million Americans felt they had endangered themselves by wearing earphones whilst running, walking or cycling in the previous 12 months.
The risk of self-endangerment is crystalised by a 2011 US study, reported by the Guardian, that showed that 116 instances of serious injury or death involved people who were wearing earphones in 2010-2011. Most of these instances were male and under 30.
Podcasters, Spotify etc., what can we do?
There is one simple time-light way, podcasters, to consider in a bid to help keep your listeners safe. That is to put a standard safety-promoting statement at the foot of every episode description. I’ve added a statement to the series description and to each of the episodes in the Inspo podcast series, the Road to New Normal. It reads as follows:
If listening to this podcast while active outdoors, please always remember to ensure your own safety, and the safety of others.
It could also be, podcasters, that you mention this statement at the start of every podcast recording. A five-second endeavour.
I am sure, Spotify, Apple Music etc., that could find a way to promote a similar safety message to their customers (I hold my hands up and applaud if you are already doing so – same in the case of any podcaster too!).
This very simple intervention could be the reminder that queues someone to go wait safely for the ‘green man’ rather take an unwitting and absent-minded risk.
Who knows, it might save a life?
If you’d like to learn more about the work that Inspo does, please feel free to reach out via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next Inspo podcast series is due to start in early June. More details to follow.