Is It Illegal to Wear Headphones While Riding a Bike?

No one rule prohibits wearing headphones while riding a bike, but various states, cities, and locations make up their own regulations. It is illegal to wear headphones while riding in some places, and it’s pretty dangerous to do, regardless.

This post will explore whether wearing headphones while riding a bike is illegal. I’ll give you some insight into the rules and regulations regarding this and tell you why it’s generally unsafe to do, even if it is legal. 

Let’s get rolling. 

Key Takeaways

  • No federal law in the US prohibits wearing headphones while riding a bike. 
  • Some states have rules against wearing headphones while riding bikes, but not all do. 
  • It’s generally unsafe to wear headphones while riding a bike because you can’t hear your surroundings well, putting you at greater risk of an accident. 

Is it Illegal to Wear Headphones While Riding a Bike? 

There are no laws at the federal level in the US prohibiting the use of headphones while riding a bike. But there are a few state laws that do make it illegal to do so. It depends on which state you are riding in. 

You should always check your local regulations regarding wearing headphones while riding a bike. You might not think there are any rules, but you can get a ticket and a fine for wearing headphones if it’s prohibited in your area. 

Chances are, it’s probably not illegal because most US states don’t have anything in place saying otherwise. It is illegal in California, Florida, Rhode Island, Delaware, New York, Virginia, and Maryland. 

Some of these states ban wearing headphones while you ride altogether. Others allow you to wear one headphone in one ear but not both. As you can see, it’s a good idea to check to see whatever your local rules are. 

Even though most locations don’t have laws in place, this could change in the near future as more rules are passed. And I’ll explain in the section below why riding with headphones is not a good idea, even if it is legal. 

Biking with Headphones

Exercising with music is a great way to give you some extra motivation or increase the fun factor. And while this makes sense when you are at the gym or even running, it’s not a good idea when biking. 

When you are on a bike, you can be on the same roads as regular car traffic. This means you need to be aware at all times because there are other cars, bikes, and trucks around that could get in your way. 

If you wear headphones, you might not notice a car trying to pass you or hear an ambulance cruising past. And if you don’t hear these vehicles, you might make a wrong turn and run into one. 

It’s generally a good idea to be as aware and alert as possible when you are biking. That’s why wearing headphones is a bad idea. You don’t want to risk your personal safety just because you are listening to music or a podcast. 

That’s why the laws are in place preventing people from wearing headphones in the first place. It’s a safety measure that can stop accidents and injuries from happening, and it’s a good idea for everyone’s safety. 

There are similar laws relating to wearing headphones while driving, and they exist for the same reasons. Safety is the most important thing when you are operating a moving vehicle, including bikes.

How to Choose Headphones for Cycling

Taking the following factors into account, your decision-making will be much easier.

Size and Fit

When exercising or cycling, a lot of moving around is often taking place. If your headphones aren’t the right size and don’t fit snuggly, they are sure to constantly fall out.

This can not only be quite annoying but could also be very expensive if you drop them, run them over, or lose them.

Audio Quality

Like any headphones, the audio quality of your cycling headphones is important. The sound should be good and clear, without static or interference.

However, you don’t want headphones that will cancel out all outside noise. If you use noise-canceling, you may be unable to hear vehicles, people, or other things happening all around you, which is quite unsafe.


While many people will use their headphones sitting on the couch, that is not the case here. When riding a bike, your headphones can take a lot of damage.

This can include them being dropped, falling out of your ears, or even being damaged by sweat. As a result, be sure that the headphones you go with are durable enough to survive the ride.

What Are the Best Headphones for Cycling?

Here are a few top recommendations, along with a quick review of each option.

1. Anker Soundbuds Curve Wireless Headphones

These headphones offer great sound quality, a battery life that lasts all day and functional design that should stay put for your entire ride. Better yet, they are waterproof to ensure sweat, rain or the misguided stream of your water bottle won’t damage them. If you’re on a budget but don’t want to give up sound quality, fit or battery life, these are a great option.


  • Double-digit hours of battery life
  • Ergonomically designed
  • Comes with a handy carrying pouch


  • Too much bass for some people
  • Cannot be worn without the ear wraps, which some don’t like

2. AUKEY Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

These intelligently designed earbuds have been built with a redesigned housing and different types of ear tips to ensure you get the perfect fit. The headphones also offer a protective coating to protect against sweat, inline controls and fairly decent battery life. Their magnetics tips also help prevent losing or dropping them and keeps them together.


  • Numerous ear tips
  • Magnetic tips for easier portability
  • Balanced and clear audio


  • Some connection issues can arise
  • Not as durable as some would like

3. AfterShokz Air Open Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

These are very different than the other two options as they use bone conduction technology to deliver sound, without actually being in your ears.

The design is light and flexible, and can be worn all day, but remains stable during activity. It can connect to almost any device and offers an enjoyable audio experience.


  • Safer as your ears aren’t covered
  • Their design makes them very light and flexible, yet stable
  • Superior and rich sound quality


  • The battery life is less than many other headphones
  • The design and aesthetic is not for everyone


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to if it’s illegal to wear headphones while riding a bike.

Can you wear headphones while cycling? 

In most locations, there are no rules against wearing headphones while cycling. But that still doesn’t mean you should do it. It can be hazardous because you can’t hear your surroundings, putting your livelihood at risk.  

Is it OK to listen to music while cycling? 

Listening to music through headphones while cycling can be dangerous because you cannot hear your surroundings or other vehicles nearby when you ride. Listening to a portable boombox or something similar is a better idea. 

Is it illegal to wear headphones while riding a bike in California? 

It is illegal to wear headphones while riding a bike in California. This covers all types of headphones, earbuds, and earplugs. The purpose of the law is for safety, and listening to music or talking on the phone while you ride can be dangerous. 

Can you wear headphones while mountain biking? 

While there aren’t many rules or regulations about whether you can or cannot wear headphones while mountain biking, it’s not a good idea. You need to be aware of your surroundings while riding and wearing headphones can limit this. 

Final Thoughts

It’s only illegal in a few places to wear headphones while riding a bike. There are state-by-state rules and regulations relating to this in the US. Always check your local laws before wearing headphones when you ride. 

But even if it is legal to wear headphones on a bike in your area, it’s still not very safe to do so. You risk getting into an accident and hurting yourself or someone else. Listening to music is always fun, but safety and health are more important. 

Have you ever worn headphones while riding a bike? Did you feel safe while doing so? Let me know in the comments below.

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