Marc Mortensen’s passion for cycling manifested itself early in his life. Raised by a hard-working single mom who was unable to drive him to and from school, team practices and the like, Marc relied on his bicycle as his sole mode of transportation. That reliance yielded pedaling proficiency on all types of terrain, in whatever weather events northern Utah tossed his way.
Today, Marc’s job as Assistant City Manager of Operations for the City of St. George is intimately informed by that enduring love of biking: He played an integral role in negotiations that resulted in St. George hosting three IRONMAN® championship competitions in a single year; he’s an eight-year veteran of the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance board of directors, and former board member of the Trail Alliance of Southern Utah. He was also one of the driving (or riding) forces behind the creation of the Active Transportation Committee, which developed the Active Transportation Plan adopted by the City in 2017; and he was a key player in the development and 2021 passage of the City’s Complete Streets policy.
For Marc, it’s all about enhancing quality of life. “From where I live, I can be on a dirt path in seven minutes, and a paved trail in five…and I can go 30 to 40 miles on those trails without having to interact with a vehicle,” Marc notes. “We’re very fortunate to have those opportunities and that quality of life here; they’re what make St. George one of the greatest places in the country to live.”
A BMX racer in his youth, Marc is equally at home on a road bike, mountain bike, gravel bike—and in recent years, on one of the eBikes he and his wife, Jill, climb aboard on date nights. “I’m super-excited to see the proliferation of eBikes here. We have a lot of people out riding now who otherwise would never get to experience the pure joy of being on a bike,” Marc says.
Though humble about his accomplishments, Marc is understandably proud of the creation of the Complete Streets program. Partnering with City Council member, Dannielle Larkin, and Public Works Director, Cameron Cutler, Marc helped craft the plan that ensures safe usage and mobility support for all users.
Says Marc, “The policy requires city staff, developers and everyone who wants to put streets in to look at them holistically; to make sure we include the infrastructure needed to support all modalities, whether people are on foot, bikes, on public transportation, in wheelchairs or other conveyances. That’s the right approach for St. George, where we have such an active community; it just makes sense.”
“Historically,” Marc continues, “we thought about adding more lanes, trying to support more and more cars. But we’re shifting away from that auto-centric mindset and to all those other users. It’s not always about how many cars you can get down a road, and how fast. It’s ‘how can you do it safely, in a way that’s more inviting and more conducive for business.’”
When not dealing with such weighty city business, Marc loves nothing more than grabbing his mountain bike and attempting to keep up with his 15-year-old son, Mitchell. A freshman at Snow Canyon High School, Mitchell is an accomplished cyclist in his own right, and has logged three years on his school’s National Interscholastic Cycling Association team, which his father coaches. “Riding with Mitchell has been one of the greatest joys of my life,” Marc says. “We’ve put in thousands of miles together; he can go anywhere I can, and then some.”
Summing up his lifelong love for cycling, Marc adds, “Being on a bike is a huge stress-reliever for me. Some of my best ideas have come to me when I’m on the trail, not thinking of other things. It’s in those moments that I really believe creativity happens.”
For more information about the Complete Streets policy, visit 2040.sgcity.org/accessible.php