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WKNC Radio Ride flyer

Radio and bicycles: can they help each other?

We are always writing about North Carolina State University campus station WKNC-FM around here, and now they’ve gone and done something fun and creative again. This time it’s the WKNC “Radio Ride,” billed as an “alleycat” bicycle race and scavenger hunt fundraiser through Raleigh for the station.

On August 29, contestants will meet at the Raleigh Arts Collective and at one PM they’ll receive clues for checkpoints around town. They should expect to bike for around 15 to 20 miles. The winners will receive prizes from Raleigh Denim and Negative Fun Records.

This has got me thinking again about something I ponder from time to time: the relationship between radio and bicycles. It seems very relevant because here in San Francisco where I live a huge portion of the population bikes to work and elsewhere. This often includes me, but usually I’m one of the oldest people on the bike lane. Most of my of my co-bikers are millenials, folks in their twenties and thirties, doing what the demographers have been saying they’ll do: not driving cars and opting for alternatives instead, like bikes.

If they’re not driving cars, of course, it probably means that they’re listening to radio less. But I see many of them with smartphones or iPods and such. The question for me is, are they listening to broadcast or Internet radio or podcasts on their bikes?

I’d like to see a discussion about how to make bicycles more radio friendly and vice versa. There are all sorts of issues. First, I’m not certain that riding your bike with ear buds on is such a good idea, safety wise. Are there ways to listen to audio content on a device that offers short range volume? Or maybe through your helmet, allowing you to still hear what’s going on around your immediate city-street environs?

Cars are, in my opinion, very questionable things, but they’ve had such a great relationship with radio; how do we transfer that partnership to bikes? Comments on this question very welcome.

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