Why I Ride: Scott Thomsen


By Jennifer Ann Gordon

Scott Thomsen, Principal of Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School in Davis, commutes to work from Woodland most days, rain or shine, on his e-bike, which can reach 27 m.p.h. He leaves at 6:30 AM and arrives at 7 AM. He has a system that includes packing his tie, snacks and briefcase. With his highly reflective Showers Pass raingear, he is prepared for a downpour (something he learned to do by inverse when he arrived at school drenched early on).

“Technically, I don’t have a car,” said Thomsen. His wife Wendy is a Montessori School teacher in Sacramento and commutes with the family car. They ride together recreationally. In 2013, the Thomsens rode their bikes from San Francisco to the Santa Monica Pier, covering approximately 500 miles in 7 days.

Why does Thomsen ride? “I ride to relieve stress. Riding to work each day is a great time to think things through and to practice conversation,” he said. Sometimes he rides with students part of the way.

Thomsen noted that the biggest impact of commuting via ebike has been financial. “I feel better each week not having to maintain a car,” he said. “When you add up car payments, gas, wear-and-tear, insurance, and the other often hidden costs of driving, biking is preferable.”

One of the misconceptions that kept him from biking was that it takes a lot more time. “One of the biggest obstructions I had to make the shift to biking was that I have a lot of meetings at the District Office and I didn’t think I had time to bike to the meetings,” said Thomsen. But he found out that by the time he drove to the meeting and parked, he could have biked, not had to worry about parking, and de-stressed in the process, in roughly the same amount of time. For example, driving from his home in Woodland to Emerson Junior High takes 18 minutes. Biking takes 26 minutes, and he gets the benefit of the exercise and “peace of mind.”

Thomsen says that the right gear makes a big difference. And really bright lights! Also, to develop a routine, so you bring what you need. He recommends taking the time to determine the safest routes. “I feel completely safe on roads that have significant bike lanes,” he said. “I’m seeing more and more respect by cars. Make eye contact and be visible.”

Note: To help you determine the safest bike routes, The Bike Campaign offers free Biking Maps of Davis and Woodland.

This series of articles was produced by The Bike Campaign. For more information about how to “Drive Less. Enjoy More” Contact Maria Tebbutt at funmaria@sbcglobal.net or www.thebikecampaign.com

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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5 thoughts on “Why I Ride: Scott Thomsen”

  1. Darell Dickey

    Thanks for the positive and compelling article, Scott!

    I often hear this concern about “not having enough time” as well. And that’s when I mention the time and money I save by *not* going to a gym to “work out.”

  2. PhilColeman

    Continuing the “need more time” plea, when you have a daily exercise regimen you’ll get a few more years of quality life in your remaining time on this planet.

  3. Matt Williams

    I would love to see both Scott and Jennifer Ann become advocates for implementing the following program in the DJUSD schools.  Specifically, that the first 5 percent of the points on every assignment/test would be awarded on the basis of “healthy” transportation to school.  With obvious exceptions for students with disabilities, biking to school rather than being driven by parents (dare I say helicopter parents) would be the grading criteria for that first 5 percent of the assignment/test score. 

    As Phil has said, that would result in lots of DJUSD kids getting a few more years of quality life in their remaining time on this planet. It might even cause some parents to add to their life expectancy … and we would all benefit from the reduction in vehicle traffic.

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