On music and cycling: the kind of thing talked about here might be worth consideration. aftershokz.co.uk/Bone-Conduc ... s/1817.htm)
I mostly cycle without music. I have listened to music on occasion, while cycling, although I do tend to feel conflicted about it - and I only ever did so on the riverside paths at a point when they had become boringly familiar. It took me a couple of days to realise this was a clear sign that it was time for me to venture further afield (in Sanxia direction, as it turns out, as well as towards and past Danshui).
Considering the argument concerning whether music or sound distracts you: I would argue it depends on the rider and their attitude. Just the other day I had a far from untypical experience on a Xindian path - a woman on a bicycle in a big floppy hat executing a very sudden and unexpected u-turn in front of me just at the point where I was preparing to overtake her. She rolled her front wheel directly into my path without so much as glancing behind her and screamed with fright when she saw me racing towards her. Naturally I braked in time, because I always keep a wary eye out, or at least try to.
She wasn't listening to music, and neither was I. I never assume the people around me know what they're doing, and I always keep my hands on the brakes. Even so, maybe I could have cycled slightly slower towards her. I don't know. There's a part of my brain that forgets people do things, without thinking, that appear outwardly suicidal, and they seem to do them with more frequency here than they do back where I come from.
That's not to mention the innumerable other people wandering into my path, or walking their dogs on leashes that extend across the whole path. A few listen to music, most don't. I'm inclined to believe an experienced and wary cyclist listening to music is far less a danger than somebody's grandparent randomly swerving across the road on a rusty old piece of junk. Or, as once happened to me, and which I detailed elsewhere, suddenly spitting to the side and back without bothering to check if anyone else is there.
I would say that when I'm in the city, or on any kind of road, I do feel the need to have my absolute full attention on my surroundings. On the riversides isn't so bad, assuming you're not being an idiot.
I wouldn't mind trying those bone conduction things, mind. There are times when you want to think while cycling, but there are others when you just want to drown out the noise in your head.