Mike's Bikes: Mayor McGinn Peddles a Green Image; So Far it's for Real as Limo Costs Drop

Seattle's bicycling mayor - OK, the one who also sometimes parks his SUV in front of fire hydrants - has so far lived up to his civic image as an anti-combustion, two-wheeling public official. At the least, Mike McGinn has out-greened his predecessor Greg Nickels, a professed though not always practicing environmentalist, cutting down his office's usage of city vehicles by a rather stunning 88 percent after taking over the mayoral reins from Nickels in January, according to newly released motor pool records.

McGinn - often eccentrically pictured in a suit and tie peddling to meetings or commuting from home - has also jettisoned one of two $50,000 Toyota Highlander SUVs that were used by Nickels. At McGinn's direction, that lease-to-purchase vehicle was sold by the Fleet Services Division on eBay in July for $19,000, with net proceeds of $16,600 returned to the fleet's capital fund.

That helped drop the average monthly lease costs for mayoral vehicles from $1,790 under Nickels in 2009 to $1,220 under McGinn in 2010, a 32 percent reduction.

His office staffers use other vehicles - a midsize sedan, a subcompact, and a passenger van - but sparingly in comparison to Nickels. In the first six months those vehicles were driven 345 miles; during Nickles' reign for the same period last year, they were driven 2,399 miles, an 88 percent change.

Comparitive average monthly fuel consumption dropped from 78 gallons to 50 gallons, and mayor's office parking charges also fell for the total six-month period - from $1,020 last year to $850 this year. And while Nickles had an electric bike at his office's disposal last year, McGinn's office has added a purely pedal bike to the mix (there's no cost to the city for use of motor pool bikes, says the fleets division).

McGinn has his own bike, which he uses at no charge to taxpayers, says his office. "I believe the mayor is only riding his own bike around town," says spokesperson Aaron Pickus, "and I don't believe he has ever asked for reimbursement from the city for any of his bike-related expenses."

He's not a "car hater," the alternative-transportation guru recently told the P-I, and on weekends, McGinn is more likely to be tooling around in his personal minivan. But in good weather, he commutes to the office on two wheels, says Pickus.

"He rides in to work almost every single day and will ride home as well if his schedule allows. He will also ride to events when possible, though sometimes the nature of his schedule won't allow it." Then he heads his SUV for the nearest hydrant.

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