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Published: Thursday, 5/25/2006

Toledo loses bike-to-work match

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Look for Carty Finkbeiner to be sporting some unlikely attire for the Toledo-loving mayor: an "I Love Oregon" T-shirt.

Wearing the T-shirt is the price Mr. Finkbeiner will have to pay for being bested by Oregon Mayor Marge Brown in getting employees to bike to work for national Bike to Work Day yesterday.

"We won hands down," Mayor Brown crowed.

She said Oregon mustered 44 bike riders out of a city workforce of 120.

Mr. Finkbeiner gamely led a group of 25 city workers in a lunch-hour bike ride from Government Center to Jamie Farr Park on Summit Street in North Toledo and back. Toledo has about 3,000 city employees.

Mr. Finkbeiner wore a red baseball cap and rode a 1950s-style bicycle - unlike his riding companions, who wore bike helmets and sat astride racing bikes - as he led the pack of wheeled municipal workers up Champlain Street to Galena Street, to Farr Park, and back by way of the Buckeye Basin Greenbelt Parkway, about 4 or 5 miles altogether.

He said nobody was keeping strict track of the number of miles covered, and that it was all in the cause of getting people outside and exercising.

Paul Lewandowski, an assistant to Mr. Finkbeiner who joined the noontime bike trek, said there were no mishaps, other than a single flat tire.

"It was an absolutely wonderful day," he said. "The challenge was good-natured, and I think any incentive that you can do for promoting a cause like Bike to Work Day is never a bad idea."

Toledo only counted those employees who joined the mayor on his lunchtime bike ride, which didn't impress Mrs. Brown.

"It's bike to work. That's what it's called. Not Bike Around the City," she said.

Mrs. Brown said her price for losing would have been to wash Mr. Finkbeiner's car.

She said she rides her bike two or three times a week and wants to encourage more people to pedal. "If this old lady can ride, so can a lot of other people," the 68-year-old mayor said.

Theresa Graven, Mayor Finkbeiner's secretary, said the mayor will live up to the terms of the bet when Mrs. Brown gets the T-shirt to him.

Mrs. Brown said she was prompted to challenge Mayor Finkbeiner by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.



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