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.