Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell says he’s going to ride his bike to work every day this year come rain, snow, shine or anything the Wasatch Front weather can throw at him.
Caldwell made the commitment in an effort to encourage others to commute on bikes and embrace an active lifestyle. It is also a way to celebrate the nearly $100,000 grant the city received to implement active transportation corridors.
The mayor said by riding his bike to work he is letting his actions speak louder than his words.
“I think with some good, careful planning and some other things I should be able to make it work in just about any weather condition that confronts us,” Caldwell said. “I’m far more afraid of automobiles and people distracted driving than anything the weather will throw at me.”
Studies show that people are happier the less time they spend in their cars and feel more connected with their community, he said, adding that as the population of the Wasatch Front continues to grow, the habit of solo-driver commuting is not sustainable.
Caldwell’s roughly five-mile trip from home to office takes 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the weather.
“It really doesn’t take that much more time to do and when you get to the office you feel so much better and invigorated and it’s a nice way to end the day, too,” he said. “Work kind of stays at work and you’re ready to be with the family and do some other things.”
Severe weather, however, will slow Caldwell down. He walks down icy hills and uses his slower mountain bike with large snow tires in snowy conditions. Some days are just too icy or cold for novice bikers, he acknowledged. Caldwell said he’s been “passionately losing bike races for over 30 years” and has commuted to work on his bike at different times throughout his life. At one point he used to commute to Salt Lake City from Ogden.
Caldwell started a twitter account, @OgdenCityMayor, where he will post his exploits. He is going to tweet bike commuting tips and his experiences commuting as well as videos from a GoPro camera he will put on his handlebars.
Carolyn Szczepanski, director of communications for the League of American Bicyclists, said a mayor riding to work can be influential.
“It has a lot of prominence and a lot of sway not only with the community but with elected officials on the city council and with engineers,” Szczepanski said. “That’s a huge asset to the community and we’re trying to get as many elected officials on bikes as we possibly can.”