Each year, in honor of Bike to Work Month in May, the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (SCBC) honors one inspiring cyclist as Bike Commuter of the Year. This year’s winner, Sergeant Dave Thompson, is a twenty-seven year veteran of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. He regular rides the eight miles between his home in Windsor and the Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. Thompson was nominated by multiple co-workers within the agency. “Commuting to work as a Sheriff’s Sergeant takes commitment and dedication,” said Public Information Officer Sgt. Spencer Crum. “Sgt.Thompson cannot just lock up his bike and sit at his desk. He is a hard-working field supervisor who must put on a ballistic vest, uniform, boots and gun belt every day. Because of his commitment to riding, Sgt. Thompson arrives an hour early to prepare himself for work and stays late every day to change back to ride home to his family. It would be easy for Sgt. Thompson to drive to work, show up on time and work hard; instead, he has found a way to meld his dedication and love for the sport with his dedication to serving his community.”
Sgt. Thompson began cycling to work regularly in 2014. “Having a semi-regular 7:00 am to 5:00 pm work schedule made it possible to get in the habit,” he said. “We have a locker room and showers, and a secure place to stash my bike.” While co-workers may arrive in the office grumbling that they need coffee to get going, Sgt. Thompson says, “I just rode eight miles in the fresh air – that’s MY coffee!” He also finds that riding home after work provides therapeutic relief from an often hectic job. He enjoys riding so much that he continued riding even after being hit by a truck on the way to work in 2015. When asked if he told the driver that he was a law enforcement officer, he laughed. “Oh, yeah, it came up. The guy ended up being on probation! I wasn’t hurt but my bike was totaled. The guy threw it in his truck and offered to drive me toward Windsor. Then he bought me a new bike… in a hurry!”
Sgt. Thompson’s commitment doesn’t stop with his daily commute; he gives back to the cycling community as a volunteer with SCBC’s Safe Routes to School program. Before his current assignment, Sgt. Thompson served on bike patrol in both Windsor and Sonoma. It was there that he met Safe Routes staff and began volunteering at school bike rodeos in 2011. He helps out both in the classroom and out on the course. “He hangs out with staff all day and even helps set up and pack up the truck! The staff, kids, and school administrators all love him,” enthuses Safe Routes Education Manager Mic Nikolayew. “Deputy Dave,” as he is called by the students, became certified as an instructor by the League of American Bicyclists in 2012. He has also acted as a liaison between cycling safety instructors and the traffic court, and taught Smart Cycling classes for law enforcement agencies.
Sgt. Thompson will be retiring from the Sheriff’s Office this summer and embarking on a cross-country road trip with his family. His beloved mountain bike will definitely be coming along for the ride.