Bike Month: Tips from John Richards

photo by Morgen Schuler

May is Bike Month, and on Friday, May 17th, KEXP will celebrate our second year participating in Bike to Work Day!

Alongside our partner Cascade Bicycle Club, we’ll present the KEXP Energizer Station. Our parking lot (at 113 Dexter Ave N) will be closed from 6 AM to 9 AM and open to bike riders! You can enjoy bike safety checks, refreshments, bike outreach and the 7:45 AM “Ride & Rally” (ride to City Hall) w/ Mayor Mike McGinn!

To celebrate, we asked KEXP’s own bicycle advocate John Richards, host of The Morning Show on KEXP, for his personal bike tips:


photo by Brittney Bollay

I started riding a few years ago, because I both wanted to stay in shape and because we decided to be a one-car family, which means the guy who gets up early and doesn’t deal with the kids buys a bike. But I like to think every day I ride, there is one less car on the street -- which is true! Every bike you see out there, even the annoying ones, is one less annoying car on the road, and I drive on the road, trust me, there are plenty of us in cars who are equally annoying but of much greater potential to kill one another.

Anyway, I get up pretty damn early, and for me that’s the best part of my ride. I see the moon, the stars, the rain, the hail, the hookers, the cops, the totally decked-out bike-crazed lunatics, and the dudes riding mountain bikes down the middle of the road with no lights on and I can’t figure out what in God’s name they are doing. Anyway, my ride home is more about dodging buses, a LOT of red lights, other bikes, dodging buses, avoiding every door, delivery truck, and parked car that uses the bike lane for their own needs, AND getting a ton of great exercise, fresh air and letting out any stress that the day had delivered.

I’ve been asked to share some tips -- most seasoned bike riders probably know all these, but if you’re new to commuting on the bike, like I was a few years ago, they might help!

1. Eye contact: At all times, as if your life depended on it (which in some cases, it might), make sure to lock eyes with any car that you see at a stop sign, exiting a parking lot, or that has any chance of pulling out and hitting you. If you can’t make eye contact, think of it as that blind spot in the car. If they can’t see you, they can’t see you.

2. Don’t be a dick: Look, bikes are looked at by some as pure evil on the roads. I take issue with that as I don’t like to generalize. I’ve been in four different car wrecks (none my fault) and I have not cursed the entire car population... the same population that kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. Yet here we are, keeping cars off the road, not polluting or using up natural resources, getting exercise, and looking AWESOME in our bike outfits, and we are held at a higher standard. So be it, each and every one of you is an ambassador to the world of bikes. Wear a helmet. Stop at red lights. If there is a bike lane, use the bike lane. Give the cars the room for a free right, if you can. DO NOT ride down the curb, unless you have no other choice, and if you have no other choice, then walk your bike or go very slow. Try and stay to the right if you’re moving slow. And wave when cars are nice to you, because a lot of cars have been nice to me.

3. Lights and mirrors: Dress up like a X-mas tree if you have to, but make sure you are seen. I put a rear view on my handlebars and it has made my life much easier knowing what is behind me... just don’t spend all your time looking behind you, you’ll run into a door.

4. Watch out for doors! As I mentioned, most bike lanes are apparently for doors to open, trucks to park, buses to stop in, debris to be swept to, construction to be placed in, etc. etc., but the scariest thing is those opening doors.

5. Be cool to other bikes. Don’t draft someone going uphill. Someone did that to me the other day, I just hit my brakes and he ran into me. Fine by me. It was breaking rule 2 of not being dickish. Don’t pass on the right. Say hi to one another. Help someone if they have a flat. Look out for each other. And, no matter if you’re in your US Postal Service racing outfit or your cut-off shorts and sandals, you’re all in this together.

John Richards is the host of The Morning Show, airing Monday through Friday, 6-10AM.

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