It takes right around twelve minutes on any given day for Professor Ted Lyon to commute on bike from his home to his office at the Kennedy Center, located on the BYU main campus. If he had decided to use his car instead of his bike, the same two mile commute would take him thirteen minutes and he would need to park his car two blocks away from the office. Instead of barren, distant parking lots, Professor Lyon finds convenient bike racks, surrounded by trees, adjacent to the Kennedy Center where he can secure his novel, green and black hybrid. And that’s just one of the benefits of riding a bicycle to work each day, he tells me. “I’m enjoying the ride… this is fun… I’m free, I can go where I want,” then his enthusiasm really pulls me in when I learn that he’s been doing this for fifty years. Yes, Ted Lyon has been biking to the office, other than when he’s out of the country, and in all types of weather, for “fifty years.”
Drifting back to where Ted’s affection for the bike began, I find it interesting that he didn’t feel comfortable biking at UCLA and so he didn’t, but picked up the idea when he was teaching at the University of Oklahoma and University of Wisconsin where he felt that parking fees were “exorbitant” ($210/yr). Along with “paying money for gas,” using a car just didn’t make a lot of sense for a practical person. He began riding to BYU on 1 August 1972 when he joined the faculty as a professor of Spanish; although the cost of parking now wasn’t a consideration, Ted still found it more convenient and more enjoyable to commute on bike than by car. This is also a person who appears to me to be the epitome of good health and fitness. Is there a connection? Later, taking an interest in helping to improve bike commuting for others, Ted began working with active transportation advocate BikeWalk Provo, and meeting with the Mayor to advocate for bicycle safety in the City of Provo, especially along busy Lower Canyon Road.
Ted’s daily bike commutes and his involvement in the advocacy didn’t go unnoticed. During popular Mayor John Curtis’ term Ted was deservingly awarded the honor of “Provo Biker of the Year.” “Biking seems to me a natural way to get around… [and we] really need to encourage biking internationally, Mexico City is full of cars and pollution,” Ted declares to me flat out. When I ask him if he wishes more students rode bikes to campus, he resounds with a “yes!” and he feels there are enough bike racks on campus to accommodate more students. For recreation Ted likes to ride the Provo River Parkway to Bridal Veil Falls, 14 ½ miles from home. Keep in mind, at 82 he’s doing this without electric assist and on what would be considered a simple mountain bike. Professor Ted Lyon sums up our interview with, “[I] enjoy being outdoors and feeling the sun and the wind in my face,” words that touch me personally — Stan Morris.