Judith Wood celebrates her Commute Champion recognition with her colleagues.
When Judith Wood first took part in the University of Washington Ride in the Rain bike commuting challenge, she did it as a team of one. She didn’t know a single other person in her department, UW Educational Outreach, who was participating.
Three years later, though, Educational Outreach didn’t have one Ride in the Rain team – it had two, both nearly full, because Wood had recruited too many riders to fit on one squad.
“I’m an enthusiast, and I like to try to get other people hooked,” says Wood, an operations manager for Educational Outreach. And she’s quite good at getting people hooked on year-round bike commuting, says Nicole Minkoff, a former colleague who Wood recruited to join her Ride in the Rain team.
“She’s really enthusiastic, and she’s also really approachable,” Minkoff says, “so she kind of makes you feel like she can do it and you can do it, too.”
Based on a nomination from Minkoff, we’ve selected Judith Wood as our newest Commute Champion. In a Commute Champion, we look for someone who doesn’t just make smart commute choices for themselves, but who encourages and helps their colleagues to do the same. And Wood exemplifies that better than just about anyone.
Wood began working at the UW about four years ago. She was thrilled to be able to bike to campus, as she had when she was a graduate student here in the 1980s. Before long, she was biking nearly every day, year-round, from her home in Phinney Ridge.
Commuting by bike gives her a twice-a-day boost to her well-being that nothing else can match, Wood says.
“It’s a break between work and home or work and whatever else you’re doing,” she says. “You’re outdoors. You’re in nature. The sky is there. You’re not on a bus. You’re not in a car. You’re getting exercise without having to plan time for it.”
When she heard about the Ride in the Rain challenge during her first fall at the UW, she joined in, hoping it would motivate her to keep riding as the weather turned colder and wetter. It did that, but she thought it would be a lot more fun if she was doing it alongside people she knew.
So when the Bike Month commute challenge rolled around the next spring, she signed up as a team captain and began recruiting.
“For me, it was a way to create a small community within a large organization,” Wood says. It gave her and her colleagues something to talk about while they rode the UW Tower elevator together.
Minkoff, who now works in the chemical engineering department, says she had never bike-commuted during the winter before Wood recruited her to join the Educational Outreach Ride in the Rain team in 2013. With Wood’s encouragement and advice, she stuck it out through the whole month of November. She’s been a year-round rider since.
By this past fall, thanks to Wood’s team spirit, Educational Outreach had gone from zero Ride in the Rain teams to two. The connections she’d helped create were evident when Transportation Services visited the UW Tower to recognize her: Nearly 20 of her colleagues, many of whom were recruited to her bike challenge teams, joined TS to cheer her on. That’s the power of a true Commute Champion.
Do you have a friend or colleague who studies or works at the UW and models smart commute choices? Nominate her or him to be a Commute Champion with our online form.