By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options
When Sky View Middle School Principal Scott Olszewski and his wife were looking to relocate from New Jersey to the west coast, his goal was to “be close to wilderness and be able to walk or ride my bike to work every day.” Landing in Bend was a perfect fit and Olszewski has kept his promise to himself by riding his bike four miles each way to school and back.
Olszewski is not alone in his efforts. Vice Principal Brian Uballez, after seeing his co-worker’s dedication, jumped on board and the two now have a friendly camaraderie, holding each other accountable for riding bikes. To date, Olszewski and Uballez have respectively driven their cars a total of nine days this school year. Not bad considering it is the middle of winter!
Olszewski and Uballez each have different accounts of how they became bike commuting super stars. Olszewski is father to a toddler, and combining that with running a middle school, he doesn’t have much time to exercise. However, he has to get to work somehow, so riding his bike gives him an hour of exercise every day. He and his wife also own only one car. “We bought the car in 2010, and we it just hit 50,000 miles on it. So, we really don’t put miles on the car.” He also doesn’t consider himself to be a cyclist. “I wear normal clothes, have a basic old commuter bike, and if my bike needs anything fixed, I ask Brian (Uballez) to do it for me!”
Olszewski’s four mile commute includes roads as well as canal trails. He admits that he has had some challenges including run-ins with distracted drivers or not-so-friendly dogs on his route. But that doesn’t stop him from his daily ride because he knows that it keeps him physically and mentally fit. And he surely doesn’t mind the premium parking that he gets as he rolls directly up to the school.
Uballez, on the other hand, is an avid cyclist that has about eight bikes in his garage. A self-professed bike geek, he recently turned Olszewski on to studded tires for his bike for the winter. Uballez varies his route to and from work, depending on how much exercise he wants and he picks up his daughter at another school using a trail-a-bike that she rides off the back of his bike.
“I find it interesting that people think we are crazy for riding our bikes to work in the winter. But think about all the people that go skiing in very cold temperatures all winter long! It just takes a different perspective a the right clothing.”
Sky View Middle School participates in the Safe Routes to School Program and the students aren’t the only ones learning how to ride bikes safely. Olszewksi honed his “biking through roundabout” skills during one of the sessions. Contact Brian Potwin at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about Safe Routes to School.
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org
Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com