Just like runners, cyclists often wear headphones to listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts while they ride. There is a clear appeal here. It can help make the ride more enjoyable and it gives them a chance to multi-task, i.e., getting to their destination while enjoying some. It’s similar to a driver in a car cranking up their favorite song for a trip to the store. Sure, they don’t need it, but they’d prefer it.
However, there are those who think that riding with headphones or earbuds is just way too dangerous. They argue that it eliminates an entire sense that could otherwise keep you safer. They point out that cyclists already face a high level of risk because an accident can cause such serious injuries. Their best bet to stay out of the hospital is to be vigilant and try to avoid accidents entirely. Being able to hear traffic around them can help them do it, so headphones are an unnecessary way to increase risk.
These points do carry some weight. If a cyclist is mostly concerned with safety, it seems clear that not being distracted is the safest way to ride. That means not wearing headphones or earbuds on a bike.
That said, if the cyclist follows the rules of the road and gets hit by a driver who makes a mistake, it’s not the cyclist’s fault because they couldn’t hear the driver making that mistake. The fault still sits firmly on the driver in the motor vehicle, and the bicycle rider may have a right to financial compensation after the crash.