Local family champions bike safety


Local family champions bike safety

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Richard and JamesFather and son Richard and James Fox spent a blustery Sunday afternoon in January giving away bike lights to riders on the Forest Park bike path. The pair, along with James’ girlfriend Skye Clogson, flagged down cyclists pedaling up the popular trail along Skinker Boulevard.

Richard’s interest in cycling safety has a long history. While attending college in Tuscon, Arizona, he founded Share the Road, a company that manufactured high visibility cycling clothing. After hearing of a cyclist who was left paralyzed after being struck by a car, Richard came up with the light project to impress on his son the importance of riding safely and to help keep other cyclists safe.

The Fox’s chose Forest Park because they knew that it was a popular route for urban riders. Standing to the side of the bike path, they waved down any riders who lacked this important safety asset.

“People were super skeptical at first,” says James. “They had never seen anyone do this. Many wouldn’t stop and my dad had to run alongside them.”

“Everyone was suspicious about ulterior motives,” says Richard. To get riders’ attention, he often called out “Your mother would be happy that we gave this to you.”

James began bicycling while a student at Lafayette High School, starting by dusting off his father’s 30-year-old bike. He began riding with a group at Big Shark Bicycle’s Tuesday evening crits, and by the age of 17 he was placing and winning races. He went on to ride in the Tilles Park Criterion, Pedal the Cause, and a Gran Fondo on the Katy Trail. This past year he worked as a salesman at Big Shark Bicycle Company, where he used the shop to tune up his own bike and learned about the history of the sport.

“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride,” James quotes cycling champion Eddie Merckx. Cycling is independence for James. “Even the most social person… needs time to themselves and cycling does that for me.”

The father and son share their passion for cycling and spent two weeks together during the summer of 2014, riding from St. Louis to Breckenridge, Colorado.

James is now studying Public Health at New York University. He is a member of the NYU Cycling Team and races in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference. This takes him to competitions all along the eastern seaboard. He is also navigating the streets of New York City on a bicycle, far different from the rural roads near the family home in Wildwood. While he plans to work as a doctor or a health care analyst, he dreams of owning his own bike shop one day.

Of their recent light project, Richard remarked, “There was such a great reaction. I think we’ll do it every year.” As the sun started to fade that Sunday in Forest Park and the Fox family packed their gear into their truck, they saw a cyclist approaching in the twilight. Richard was impressed with the intensity of the lights on the oncoming bike. They waited, idling as the rider neared. The cyclist looked familiar. As he passed, James, Richard and Skye saw that the lights on the bike were theirs. They flashed their headlights at the grateful cyclist, and I waved back.