May 17th, 2009
07:58 AM ET

Dear President Obama #118: My biker gang

Reporter's Note: The President of the United States would like suggestions on how to run the country. Nancy Pelosi, I suspect, would like a re-do. Can’t help with that, but I happily press on with my letter a day to the White House.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/17/art.bike.chu.jpg caption="U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu rides his bicycle to work after he attended a 'Bike to Work Day' event in Washington, DC."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I have never been one to work for the weekends, but I sure feel that way lately. I don’t know if it’s this weird hot-one-day-cold-the-next spring we are having, or all the economic ups and downs, but by Friday afternoon I am just bushed. Plus with the end of the school year looming, it seems like the kids’ schedule is just spinning out of control. I’m not a drinker, but if I were…

Maybe that is why I completely missed Bike to Work day! I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of most of these “special” occasions ginned up to promote causes. Fly a Kite Day, Milk a Cow Month, Call Your Mother Mondays, Kiss a Hitchhiker Week, whatever. But this biking business is something I can get behind.

I commuted on my bike, back and forth to work in downtown DC for almost a straight year at one point, and it was great. Roughly twenty miles round trip every day. (Have I already told you about this?) I’d load up every morning, rain or shine, and take off. DC has enough good trails that I did not have to deal with a lot of crazy traffic.

I kept going even into winter when I had to use bike lights to navigate the darkness home. I kept going even when the temperature dropping well into the teens and I was cutting through several inches of fresh snow. And I finally stopped one day when the snow was so deep I found myself carrying the bike as much as riding it to clear the drifts. They turned into ice mountains (you weren’t living here then, but it was a heck of storm,) the trail remained impassable for weeks, and by then I was back in the car.

But I still miss it. Teddy Roosevelt used to terrify the local citizenry by riding his horse through the woods right in the middle of DC, firing his pistol at twigs as he passed. I thought of that often when I stopped by the glassy Potomac, with twilight gathering, and nothing but the trees pressing round. At those times, Washington is a truly beautiful city.

So even though biking was kind of President Bush’s thing, I highly recommend it to you. Get a nice cyclo-cross bike, slip on your helmet, and take a break from being President. Bike to work? No. Bike away from it.

Call if you can.



Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Sir

    Total bicyclist humor. And thank goodness I live in Seattle: trails and bike lanes galore, for each and all without distinction. But as soon as biking gets popular, and all the kid's start bass-jammin around town on bikes with five foot spoilers cobbled together with lunch funds, well then I'm walkin. Friggin kids.

    May 18, 2009 at 9:28 am |
  2. Carol B. in MD

    Whether it's biking, politics, health causes, et al... do it if it's right for you & the family & country, perhaps.What's lame is brainless, lemmings who wait for "so called" experts or statistics to tell them WHAT to do. Use common sense or gut feelings for what you care about and you'll rarely be off the mark. It's silly to wait for the "cause of the day." Do research & make sure your contributions or time ISN'T mostly going to fundraising staff, rather than the recipients and "you done good." No caricatures approved this message.

    May 18, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    What's your point to Mr Obama.
    More stimulus money for bike trailsin the US? cities and elsewhere?

    May 18, 2009 at 1:07 am |
  4. nicholas potts

    Im not sure who to address this to, I hoped the Presedent.
    Well ive worked hard 6 days a week for the past 3 years ,I had a dream.
    now I have had to well stop paying my mortgage? I tried to re fi my house and a credit score in the mid 700's is not optimum, The house appraised at 300, 000 dollars and I owe 230,000 still not good enough, finally I was told I am self employed and my debt to income ratio was not good.
    (last month I paid 16000 dollars to taxes)?
    I do not have a credit card.
    I do not have a car payment.
    I have a commercail mortgage ( I put 70000 dollars down), thinking abouy my retirement.
    I put $50,000 down on my house, A RE-FI on the house would have saved me $400 amonth on my mortgage, as I said before I could not get a refi because debt to income ratio, now heres the point , I have as everyone has been affected by this economy, I now see a decreasein buisness by 500 dollars a week.( my mortgage on the house)
    well my goal 3 years ago was to at some point refi the shop and the house.now I have no chance and to me now a 2000 dollar loss is a 4000 dollar swing . the house is on the market it will sell or the bank can have it........I put down 50 thousand dollars when I purchased it.
    I have paid 70,000 dollars in mortgage payments over the last 3 years.
    If it sells I will maybe be left with 10000 dollars. I have worked hard for what?.... next I think they can have the commercial space ... Ive lost evrything, forclose on two properties and probilbly bankrupt...
    country wide managing my account for freddy mac.......... Obama you are so out there, ( I am 49 years old) and so angry...

    May 17, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  5. Monica

    my mom is my best friend in the whole world. I'm going through a divorce with two kids and not much help and sometimes you just need to talk to your mom. My mom has been through a lot in her life from her mom wanting her and then sending her away and all over. My mom was married to my dad who is not all that nice. He was very mean to my mom. My mom now has Brest problems when UTMB found them they ran test and ever since she was in to much pain to cook anymore. She was a chef . Hurricane Rita happened and things went down hill she moved to Houston to get a job and never could. she became homeless she was unable to get to UTMB they had no way to get in touch with her and she had noway to get there. Hurricane Ike happens.UTMB is not open yet. My mom now has a lump in her armpit and it has a pink tint to it. she has a few lumps going up the back of her neck as well. I have called many places the ones she can get to has set her appointment like 6 month's away the other ones are to far for her to walk. They can get her in the next day or something. She has no car and know money for medical help. My mom is very sick and she just need a little boost I wished i could even give her a rid to her appointments. I just love my mom and she has been through so much this letter doesn't even come close to what I would like for you to know. My mom cant get medical help, bus pass, taxi, something. I'm so sorry this is very hard for me to write about. My mind just starts running. I love my mom she is my mom I don't want to lose her. I have called senators, Lt. governors, mayors, congressman and nothing. One said oh ill call you back Friday. That they were real busy. She never did. I don't know how many more people are like this.

    May 17, 2009 at 10:59 pm |
  6. Evelyn

    The president told us to wash our hands recently with regards to the outbreak of swine flu...I know for certain that more hands are washed now because he said it. Therefore, yes to biking! And let the president set the example and then order the American people to follow suit. In Amsterdam, everyone is lean and active, there are bikes everywhere.

    May 17, 2009 at 9:56 pm |
  7. brnard wilson

    mr cooper I respect you first of all and think you should look at the good o boy net wetwork that keep attacking the president they are the supports of rush lumbort and dick channey i am just a good american and tired of the attacks on him mr lumbort tried to seperate pepole with his tactis and it did not work now he and dick chaney are tryjing to use scare tatics on people they just will not give up tell to let it go people are tired of their good boy tactics

    May 17, 2009 at 8:13 pm |
  8. Don, WA

    Great article. I'm all for biking to work, (or these days biking to job interviews), or walking to work or the store if it's close enough. Just think how much less fuel the country might use, less pollution, less traffic, maybe lower healthcare costs as more people are physically active and less stressed – so the big picture is real. And for the individual, all those things make their own lives better, not to mention personal well-being and health, and saving money on fuel and auto repairs. Maybe there could be reduced rates on auto insurance for regular bicycle commuters. And I think gov't initiatives to build geographically logical bike paths in cities through the country would be a great idea, because it's not so desirable to ride a bike on the side of the actual street for too long with auto's zooming right next to you.

    May 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  9. Amy

    I must say this whole Notre Dame thing is so funny. Of course we cannot all agree on everything. But when people who call themselves Christians behave that way, I can't help but consider them all hypocrites. Because there is no way they can tell me that they have lived a perfect life without tarnish. And by the way, how many of them have significantly contributed to the welfare of children who need homes. How many times have they walked right past a homeless person? Noone lives a righteous life. I am so tired of Christian Hypocrites!

    May 17, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  10. Loretta Koon

    Good for you, Tom! And don't forget the added benefit of having those muscled calves in time for bermuda short season. That's what I call a win win situation.

    May 17, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  11. Arnold Coby

    This is in respond to a E-mail I received on Notre Dame honoring President Obama. I also sent this respond to the White House E-mail. I believed the President of the United State has the right to attend any events, weather if it’s a Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or a baseball game.
    Physically protesting a person right’s to chouse to attend an event, is a form of segregation. Yes the Constitution give us the right’s to peacefully demonstrate in what principal’s we believed, it doesn’t give us the right to dictate to a person where to go, or what to attend.
    Isn’t that what we are fighting about, the Government telling us what we can, and can’t do.
    Remember, President Obama during his campaigned, made it very clear where he stood on pro-choice.
    Yet 54% of Democrats, and Republicans Christians executed their Constitutional rights and voted for President Obama. Where is the hypocrisy? One of the statement in the E-mail was, all Christians should protest Notre Dame deception to honor President Obama.
    Well I’m a Roman Catholic, and you know my answer.

    May 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  12. Jay, SC

    Everyone is talking about whether or not President Obama should get a honorary law degree. Has anyone ever considered that maybe he doesn't even want one. We've all gotten gifts before that we didn't want. After all he does have a real Harvard law degree at home. That's like giving me a plastic plant when I already have a greenhouse.

    May 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  13. Teresa, OH

    What made you bike for the year? exercise? diet? meditation? peace? broke down car? or the love of biking? Do you still bike alot? Yes, I'm nosey. ; )

    re: "Bike to work? No. Bike away from it." That is great advice, Tom.
    I'm still laughing at that one.

    May 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  14. Andre Aguilar

    Re: Catholics versus Obama.

    How can the Catholics cry murder on cases of abortion and not murder when they send their flocks to war to kill fellow humans, including innocent civilians and children. The sixth commandment clearly states, "Thy shall not murder."
    Catholic leaders need to be consistent and not selective in their own doctrines.

    May 17, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  15. Art

    Sorry Tom, no one in washington is listing, but, thanks for trying.

    May 17, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  16. Rachel

    I love it!!, just pictured everyone riding bikes or walking again like we used to, what a pleasant thought, maybe people would meet their neighbors again and have actual conversations. great article,

    May 17, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  17. Gerald Hays

    Mr. Anderson Cooper I would like very much for you people not to air all this idiotic protesting that is going to shown at Notre Dame College today; this i feel is ongoing bashing of President Obama which is getting old by the minute cause by the minute people are losing Lifestyles right now and to be showing this; This Man is our president. the President of the United States of America; but what I am seeing and hearing now is People are tearing down this Country with their negative action and one person has commented saying he will not stop pushing anger and Divisiveness ; This Country voted in a Man . who is willing to tackle the problems we are Facing head on where as most would say od lee each State handle there own problems; That to me is not the United States it is the Divided States; Please discuss this with your great panel

    May 17, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  18. Henry Wiley

    Indiana, and Notre Dame University, have demonstrated their desire to isolate themselves from the possibility of discussion concerning abortion or stem cell research. They do not want the President to speak there, so I would advise the President to withdraw his face and mind from Indiana, until they apologize to the current leader of the free world. They are unworthy of his voice.

    May 17, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  19. Peg Shambo

    I believe President Obama saw a LOT more snow in Chicago than you've EVER had in DC! LOL

    May 17, 2009 at 9:09 am |