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Originally published Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 9:03 PM

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Bicycle champion McGinn's wheels stolen

Seattle's most famous bike rider, Mayor Mike McGinn, rode a bicycle Wednesday morning into the City Hall parking garage. But apparently preoccupied with city business, he didn't lock it, and when he returned for the commute home, the bike was gone.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle's most famous bike rider, Mayor Mike McGinn, parked his bike Wednesday morning in the City Hall parking garage, as he usually does, in one of the bike racks. But, apparently preoccupied with city business, he didn't lock it.

"He just spaced," said Mark Matassa, McGinn's communications director.

When McGinn returned in the evening for the commute home, the bike was gone. And it wasn't even his bike. It was his wife's.

"I know I've been encouraging people to ride bikes more," McGinn tweeted Wednesday night, "but I didn't mean u could 'borrow' my wife's bike w/o asking."

Later he posted a picture of the model, a dark-green GT Slipstream, and added his wife's reaction: "Peg is pissed."

The man known — with affection and derision — as Mayor McSchwinn for his devotion to two-wheeled commuting, bike lanes and bike boxes and for his opposition to a car-honoring tunnel, quickly opened himself to merciless abuse.

One Seattle Times reader e-mailed, "Does he think that even though it was in the city hall garage, there are no crooks there? City Hall is FULL of crooks!"

Another wondered if it wasn't a publicity stunt by a battered politician seeking sympathy. But another suggested that McGinn's bike riding was itself a stunt. "He has the body of Homer Simpson and apparently doesn't own a bike himself."

Still another wondered if, after the mayor's critical remarks about the police force during his State of the City address Tuesday, some officers hadn't made off with the bike.

Last fall, McGinn donated his own bike, the Trek hybrid that helped define his political image in the 2009 campaign, to Bike Works in Columbia City, a nonprofit that rebuilds old bikes and teaches bike repair to young people.

He planned to buy a new bike but hadn't gotten around to it yet, Matassa said.

The mayor bought his wife's bike used in 2003 at Recycled Cycles in the University District, said James Wallace, who works there in sales. Wallace said the mayor is a regular.

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"He buys parts. He just bought a pump. I think we can say that this mayor pumps his own air," Wallace said.

Indeed, the bike community sounded protective of the man who has done so much to promote their passion.

M.J. Kelly, communications director for Cascade Bicycle Club, said that although McGinn just missed the organization's bike swap, he could buy a new bike at the Seattle Bike Expo at Pier 91 on March 12 and 13.

She also suggested that he report the theft to the police (he has) and give them the bike's serial number. She said that would greatly increase the chances of it being returned.

She noted that bikes get stolen in Seattle all the time.

"I hope you don't make fun of him," Kelly said. "It could happen to anyone."

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com

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