New leader of Bike Utah wants to empower people through cycling, which ‘saved my life’

Jenn Oxborrow previously served as the executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.

(Bike Utah) Jenn Oxborrow, who is the new executive director of Bike Utah, previously led the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.

The way Jenn Oxborrow sees it, biking saved her life — and her family — “in so many ways,” she said.

It started years ago, after her son suffered head trauma, and she suffered a “really serious injury,” which required several surgeries, Oxborrow said. The two decided to start biking to and from school every day, in the heart of Salt Lake City’s 9th and 9th neighborhood.

“That was really exciting, and a little terrifying,” she said, “but very empowering.”

Earlier this month, Oxborrow was named the new executive director of Bike Utah, a statewide nonprofit that advocates for bicycling and other active transportation.

“We are truly excited to have Jenn join us,” Steph Tomlin, Bike Utah board chair, said in a statement. “We hope to leverage her experience and enthusiasm to continue to grow Bike Utah and our programs into the future.”

Oxborrow most recently worked for Allies with Families, a Salt Lake City organization that works to “empower individuals and families by providing peer and community supports.”

Before that, she served as the executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition for five years until leaving in August 2020. She also previously worked for the state Department of Human Services.

Oxborrow said her move to Bike Utah is a continuation of her work in the domestic violence field.

“A lot of people, when they’re rebuilding their lives after an experience intersecting incarceration or the criminal justice system, biking can really be essential for them to put their lives back together,” she said.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jennifer Oxborrow, pictured in 2018, is the new executive director of Bike Utah.

That’s because cycling can provide basic access to school and work. Growing up in poverty, Oxborrow also said being able to ride a bike “really created a lot of access to cool things for me.” And there’s obvious health and wellness benefits, she said.

“I know when I bike to work or to the grocery store or out for a date night with my partner, it’s so good for me physically and mentally. And it really does connect me to my community,” she said, “which has been so important for us over the past couple of years through this pandemic, in particular.”

Ensuring people can move about the city and state more safely on a bike is part of her mission as executive director, Oxborrow said.

She is working with Rep. Jeff Stenquist, R-Draper, on a funding request during the upcoming legislative session related to bicycling education and the 1,000 Miles Campaign — which aims to build 1,000 miles of family-friendly bike lanes, paths and trails in the state — after some cuts were made during the pandemic.

“For me, it all comes down to safety, and there are a lot of different ways to work on safety,” she said.

Oxborrow said she aims to complete a statewide needs assessment to ensure that biking is accessible “in underserved communities and rural communities” throughout the state.

She continues to work as a mental health professional at The Lotus Center, which she helped co-found in 2015, and she said she remains “deeply committed” on working to prevent “family violence and sexual assault in our schools and campus environments.”

Becky Jacobs is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of women in Utah for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.