Cyclists and people unhappy with them have written to the press recently. Their presence on the roads and hiking trails, along with motorists and hikers, has been discussed. I hate to pile further on them, having much enjoyed cycling myself in the past, but I must add a concern about greenways.
In part because October is the month designated for Audiology Awareness, I write on behalf of the many people who love to walk and are pleased to see greenways developing, but who fear they won’t be able to use those wonderful places. That’s because pedestrians so often get lumped together with cyclists for such healthy alternatives to roadways.
They need to be clearly separated. If not, pedestrians with hearing that is not acute become accidents waiting to happen. And, thanks to noise on the battlefield and even in the everyday environment, the numbers of people, both young and old, with hearing loss in our community is increasing.
If you can’t hear the sound of someone approaching behind you on a bicycle, and maybe can’t even hear them shout out or hear the bell the more conscientious of them may be using, you can’t step aside to make way for them.
People with hearing loss often don’t fill their side of the bargain by using assistive technology. Yet that technology, which isn’t perfect, improves all the time. Hearing aids and cochlear implants make a big difference in relationships and general functioning.
On Saturday, Oct. 21, at 10:15 a.m., at the meeting of the Asheville chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America at CarePartners, Tracie Rice, audiologist at Western Carolina University, will talk about new developments in hearing aid technology. She will also be offering tips about communication when one partner has a hearing loss, and telling us something about her roles in the clinic and department at WCU.
But no current technology removes the risk in putting pedestrians with hearing loss and cyclists on the same path. So, please, planners of greenways, take that into account. Don’t make what is pleasurable and healthy a cause of possibly severe problems. Neither cyclists nor pedestrians want to experience avoidable collisions.
— Ann Karson
Editor’s note: Karson is chairperson of the Asheville Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America. She can be reached at 828-665-8699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.