The Omaha biking fanatic left a legacy of excellent works and helped begin the police bike patrol on native information
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Over the years he has been recognized as Person of the Year and for Life by local organizations for his volunteering work.
Mortensen’s wife, Julie, said her husband turned to cycling years ago when rheumatoid arthritis stopped him from doing other sports. He quickly became enthusiastic about companionship and fun, she said. On the way he developed expertise in the repair of bicycles. Eventually he started collecting and repairing bicycles to give to children.
Bicycles filled the garage and the hobby room, said his wife. And as the news spread, used bikes were showing up in the driveway or in the bed of Mortensen’s pickup, his son recalled.
“He believed everyone deserved a bike,” said his son. Why? “Personal freedom. Self-exploration.”
As well as rebuilding bikes, Mortensen also worked with other bike enthusiasts in the subway to organize bike safety rodeos. Children were given free bicycles and a bicycle helmet, but also had to learn bicycle safety and road rules. Mechanics were also there to help those whose bikes needed to be repaired. Dave Mortensen said he plans to continue his father’s legacy.
Mark Sundermeier, retired deputy chief of police, said Mortensen was instrumental in starting Omaha’s police bike patrol.
“It would not have happened without him,” said Sundermeier.