March/April 2000, p.15

Commuter of the Month: Josh Max

Check out Josh Max's Outfit's new CD, Make it Snappy (SwipeCat Records)Age: 32
Neighborhood: Park Slope, Brooklyn
Occupation: Singer/Guitarist in a "lounge-a-billy" band, Freelance Writer
How did you get your start cycling in the city?
I come from the suburbs, so I didn't do much riding there. But when I moved to the city in '86, I realized that the only way I could guarantee the speed at which I could get somewhere was by bike. I fetched my bike from my parents' house and started speeding around at every hour of the day and night.
What kind of bicycle do you whirl around on?
A "Frankenstein," put together from spare parts. My local bike shop owner, Stella, says it's the perfect NYC bike. "It looks like hell but rides very well." People are less tempted to take it.
You've had some stolen?
Yes, four. Mostly when I forgot to lock them up outside. Now I have a U-Lock and a cable. I also tape up the joints and the handlebars. Anything to slow the potential thief down. I like to think it works. I also always try to park outside of 24 hour delis, so that people will think I just went in and am coming right out.
What's your commute like?
Every day, except when its snowing or raining, down Flatbush Avenue, over the Brooklyn Bridge, then to wherever it is I have to get to in Manhattan. It generally would take as long or longer for me to ride the subway, and I never get tired of seeing the Brooklyn Bridge up close. In the summer I'll ride about 250 miles per week.
How does biking figure into your job as a musician?
I'll ride to rehearsal. Shows, it depends. I've carried an eight-track recording unit and a guitar on my bike. But the rear-view mirror of a car hit my guitar once, knocking a hole into it. I made a rule with the new one - take the subway.
Thoughts on sharing the road?
Anyone not paying attention is a problem. Bikers with headphones on. Pedestrians who just walk right out into the street, lost in their heads. Horns and bells don't work, but if I bark real loud they'll look up - that snaps them out of their thoughts, and it makes them laugh. I don't want to give off a bad attitude. I always yield to pedestrians and am very conscious of trying to dismantle people's stereotypes of bonehead bikers.
Any crashes?
Just once, in Midtown. Some guy getting out of a cab opened his door in a hurry. I crashed into it, flew over the door, landed on my butt in the street with both my shoes gone. I didn't get a scratch but my handlebars were twisted sideways. The cabbie took off before I could talk to him.
Best bicycling moments?
There's nothing better than a spring ride, when you know you'll cruise through a long stretch of nice weather.
Cycling tips?
Concentration keeps me out of trouble. Train yourself to stay in the moment at all times while riding: it's the road, there's a person, a sign or a car - never, "I wish I hadn't worn this shirt."

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