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Biking everywhere wasn't just a campaign stunt for Mike McGinn. The new mayor rode his bike to work every day last week, and, according to spokesman Mark Matassa, frequently says in meetings: "I was thinking about this issue on the ride in today..."

He's even ditched the electric assist bike he was using last summer to get up hills without breaking a sweat on the way to campaign appearances. That bike broke, so now it's pedal-power only for McGinn.

But one part of the appealing symbolism—the mayor of green Seattle setting an environmentally friendly example by ditching his car—is offset considerably by the fact that McGinn, now under the constant protection that every mayor receives, has been trailed on his rides to work by security officers in a large SUV.

“These security guys, they’re serious guys and they don’t mess around," Matassa said. "When they tell you that’s how it is, that’s how it is.”

Couldn't they shadow the mayor in a Prius or something?

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“That’s not a bad question," Matassa said. But then he quickly added: "The security guys don’t own one. These guys have their vehicles, and that’s what they use. I don’t know if the Prius is the most secure automobile."

It doesn't sound like being trailed on his way to the office is the ideal scenario for McGinn.

“The mayor loves to ride his bike to work," Matassa said. "He likes the alone time.”

Except that he's not completely alone when there's an SUV crawling along nearby.

Which is a compromise McGinn, now that he's mayor, has had to accept, Matassa said.

“He’s trying to recognize that there’s a balance that you have to strike."