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Bicycling

Where’s Gavin? Likely Campaigning in an Armored SUV

1:05 PM PDT on May 15, 2009

hybrid_suv.jpgMayor Newsom's ride of choice, via josmith94701 on Flickr

Apparently I'm not the only one who got the sneaky suspicion Green Gav
doesn't really take transit or ride a bike unless it makes for good
publicity. Yet-to-be identified satirists decided to call Mayor Gavin Newsom's bluff on the nonsense assertion he (or his handlers) made to the Chronicle that he occasionally rides Muni incognito when he's not being chauffeured around in a hybrid SUV or driving his ridiculously expensive electric sports car.

A website called Where's Gavin?, borrowing from the Where's Waldo? motif, is offering a free Muni FastPass and a round of drinks to the first person who snaps a photo of Newsom on Muni, though with a caveat that it has to be on a bus, light rail vehicle, or historic streetcar, not a cable car.

We’re looking for Mayor Gavin Newsom.  Have you seen him?  We know he talks a good game on Muni and transit in our fair city, the City and County of San Francisco. But why doesn’t he also walk the walk? His advocacy and leadership for Muni has been noticeably absent even though, deep in his heart, he must know that the truly green choice is non-car transportation.

Fun aside, I wanna know why a press savvy Mayor trying to cast himself as environmentally conscious
would make incognito excursions on transit? That doesn't get you any press.
New York City Mayor Bloomberg makes a habit of riding the subway and welcomes
the press to follow him to get some "everyman billionaire straphanger"
shots. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates got some great coverage when he sold his car.

The obvious answer is that Mayor Newsom doesn't ride public transit.  Slumming it on overcrowded buses?  Ew.

As we reported last month, Newsom was chauffeured in his SUV to City Hall on Earth Day, for his own Earth Day Breakfast. As if that symbolism weren't callous enough, the Chronicle reported yesterday that he ditched Bike to Work Day to drive out to Tracy for a
campaign stop.  When the Mayor was asked why he didn't ride a bike to
work, he said he actually had ridden a bike yesterday, at the gym. And it didn't actually go anywhere.

"It was stationary," he said. "It's a technical point."

Newsom
tried to excuse himself from the ride by swearing that he rode in 10 of
the last 12 Bike to Work Day events and he said something about how he
should be "compensated" for that (the Chronicle subsequently removed
that quote from the blog post). 

Good luck out there snapping that incognito pic, Streetsbloggers. I wonder if he rocks a stache and trench coat? A bowler and a cane?

Once you've had that first round on the Where's Gavin? folks, second round is on me.

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