Give the man his bike!

I highlighted a story the other day in which Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu revealed that his security detail does not allow him to bike or ride public transit to work. I pointed out that New York's Mayor Bloomberg rides the subway to work, and he's not the only transit-riding mayor.

Berkeley's Tom Bates is, as the SF Chronicle puts it, "trading in his 2001 Volvo for an AC Transit pass and a sturdy pair of walking shoes." He explains: "I'm trying to reduce my carbon footprint to the absolute minimum. I figure, if I really want to go someplace I can just rent a car."

Speaking to UC Berkeley's Daily Cal, the climate action coordinator for the Berkeley-based Ecology Center hopes that "By giving up his car, Bates sets an example to the community that reducing one's ecological footprint is possible, [Debra] Berliner said. 'When someone like Mayor Bates ... models and really walks the talk, it really makes it easier and makes it more do-able and accessible for all other community members."

Bates tells the Chronicle that it wasn't an easy choice. "A car represents freedom," he said. "For a long time I kept thinking, how would I really feel about getting rid of it? Finally I just came to the conclusion that keeping the car was ridiculous. It was just depreciating in my driveway."

San Francisco's mayor, now officially a candidate for governor, is working on similar green cred. The Chronicle explains that:

Gavin Newsom rides in a hybrid police car for city business, and on weekends he drives his all-electric Tesla Roadster.

He also rides Muni incognito, disguised in a baseball cap, and walks when he can, said his spokesman Nathan Ballard.

Those who haven't been swept up in Newsom's media blitz may find it odd that a baseball cap would suffice to render him incognito. But Gavin Newsom is recognizable principally because of his hair (and his enormous height). (Cf. this and that and the other.)

Meanwhile, the Chronicle reports that perennially tonedeaf Oakland mayor Ron Dellums "is chauffeured in a Lincoln Town Car, according to press reports. A 2009 Town Car gets 19 miles to the gallon, according to Edmunds auto guide."

What're you doing for Earth Day.

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I'd really have to think twice about taking a job where I couldn't commute on a bike. That would bug the hell out of me.

How do academics generally fare, when arguing with guys who carry guns?