The bicycle, a symbol of freedom and eco-responsible transportation, is increasingly associated with music, thanks to modern technology. But can you legally ride your bike while listening to music through headphones, bone conduction headphones orTrue Wireless earbuds with a Transparent mode? Find out what French legislation and current practices say to answer this question.
Can you cycle to music? Deciphering French legislation
In France, the use of headphones when driving vehicles, including bicycles, is regulated by the highway code. Article R412-6-1 stipulates that “it is forbidden for the driver of a moving vehicle to wear any device capable of emitting sound in their ears”.
Although bone conduction headphones are not strictly positioned “on the ear”, but rather above it, the legislation includes them in the ban. And even if the technology helps maintain a heightened awareness of the sound environment, law enforcement agencies may not distinguish between different types of headphones.
In practice, therefore, it is advisable to refrain from using any type of headphones on public roads to avoid possible fines. The latter, classified as a 4th class contravention, could cost up to €135.
In addition, the market leader in bone conduction headphones, the Shokz brand, tried in 2015 and 2016 to overturn French regulations banning the use of these devices when cycling. However, their request was rejected by the Conseil d’Etat. The legislator’s position therefore remains unchanged, considering that even bone conduction headphones are forbidden while driving a vehicle.
An alternative solution for combining music and cycling
If listening to music while pedaling is a real pleasure, and for some a way of motivating themselves, there are alternative solutions that comply with the law. Portable Bluetooth speakers are the best alternative. By attaching a carabiner-equipped Bluetooth speaker like the JBL Clip 4, Sonos Roam or Sony SRS-XB23 to the handlebars of your bike or to your backpack, you can enjoy your music without obstructing your ears. This allows you to share your music selection with other nearby cyclists, while remaining aware of your surroundings.
Although bone conduction headphones or earbuds with a Transparent mode offer an interesting technological solution for listening to music while remaining aware of the sound environment, French legislation remains firm on the prohibition of any audio device worn by the driver of any vehicle in traffic. However, these devices are still ideal, for example, for safe city running or street workouts.
To guarantee your safety and avoid a fine, we recommend that you use portable Bluetooth speakers when you want to enjoy a bike ride with your favorite playlist.