Meet the Morrisses, Our Bike Safety Class Instructors

Couple Teaches Bicycle Safety Uptown

Gazzette By Jennifer Rice Epstein Staff Writer

Couple Teaches Bicycle Safety Uptown

Posted: Monday, July 6, 2015 5:00 am

Kellie and Dave Morris live in a cheerful yellow house in North Long Beach, a space filled with art and family photos.

But their life’s passion is in the garage. That is where, in a space most Californians parks their cars, the Morrises keep their many bicycles.

In fact, the Morrises, who will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this month, have committed to a one-car lifestyle. They prefer life in the bike lane.

This wasn’t always the case. When they were deep in the mid-career grind, Kellie and Dave were heavy commuters, at one point traveling from their home in Pasadena to jobs in Woodland Hills and Lake Forest.

“It got to the point where I would just use public transportation,” Kellie said. “I just couldn’t take it anymore. Yeah, it takes longer, but you come home and you’re not tied up in knots from the crazy commute.”

It was the effects of commuters’ burnout, plus their growing interest in cycling, that led the Morrises to move to Long Beach four years ago. And it was here that they made the switch from occasional cycling to integrating bikes into their everyday lives.

“It’s not just for exercise; use it as a mobility machine,” Dave said. “I go to the library, I do light shopping. There are many short errands you can do.”

Now, they are sharing their experiences and bringing their expertise to residents of Uptown via a number of free workshops in July and August.

Anybody can get started cycling, the couple said. For many, it’s a matter of greener, cleaner transportation or maintaining physical fitness. 

For others, having a car or even a license is not an option, Dave said. Cycling gives those people a measure of agency — options beyond waiting for rides. 

All people need, Kellie said, is a bike, a helmet (required for minors, but a good idea for everyone), a good lock, lights and the equipment needed to change a tire.

Some of the safety issues covered during their workshops will involve bike security and heightening awareness for riders. 

“The majority of accidents, of collisions that happen on bicycles, are bicyclists by themselves,” Kellie said. “We’re all afraid of being hit from behind, but that happens the least amount of times.”

The biggest hurdle for people to overcome, she added, is getting into the street and sharing the lane with cars. 

“I love motorists honking at me and cursing at me,” she laughed. “I know they see me! But if I’m hugging the curb and popping in and out of parked cars, I’m not predictable; they don’t know what to do with me.”

“Alertness is a big deal,” Dave added. “We have a curriculum that really gets into where to position yourself, how to be seen, how to be a predictable rider.” 

And in the course of that, he said, “really getting into your head: I belong here.”

Bicycle safety workshops are one way in which Kellie has remade her career, transitioning from corporate work to her role as a certified educator. She also gives private lessons to adults who had never learned how to ride a bike.

“Recently, I taught a woman who was 64,” Kellie said. “When she was coasting along and finally got it, it was so much fun to see. She had a big smile from ear to ear.”

The Morrises believe people can discover a love of bicycling at any age. 

“I get a different feel going through a neighborhood when I’m in it as opposed to going by car,” Dave said.

“You can smell the flowers, you can hear the people. you can meet your neighbors!” Kellie added.

The couple described the nearly dozen bicycles that currently sit in their garage and explained that there’s no one bicycle for everyone; the right bike depends on the needs and goals of the rider.

Dave pulled out his favorite bicycle, a Schwinn similar to the one he had been denied as a kid and finally got for himself a few years ago. Collecting bicycles, he said, can be addicting.

“Good thing I’m not like that about Corvettes!” he added.

Kellie and Dave Morris will teach free basic and advanced bike skills from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. July 11; from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 18; from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 25; from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 1; and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 8. 

All classes take place at Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson’s field office located at 6509 Gundry Ave. and are sponsored by Metro L.A. as part of their bike education summer series. 

Participants must be 14 or older and need to register in advance at http://la-bike.org/bicyclesafetyclasses.