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Another sign of change: bicycle valets

January 20, 2009 |  8:03 am

WASHINGTON -- Guy Connelly chose to spend his 60th birthday getting up at 4 a.m. and riding his bike in with his buddies from somewhere in Maryland, he isn’t sure where exactly, because it was dark and he’s from Nazareth, Pa.

Almost as soon as he hit the district, he got roped into serving a four-hour shift as a "bike valet," one of the many volunteers who locked up and cataloged the scores of bikes that came to town. With bridges closed, cars restricted and Metro trains swamped, a lot of people just pedaled in.

By 9 a.m., there were about 500 bikes at the corner of 16th and I streets.

"Maybe this will be what it looks like when we finally all run out of gas," Connelly, clearly an environmentalist, said wistfully, after stepping into a Christian Science Reading Room to use the facilities.

Is that any way to spend a birthday, fending off frostbite with chemical hand-warmer packs, parking other people’s bikes and then finding a Jumbotron on the National Mall to watch a new president take the lead?

"What could be better, really?" Connelly said, without pause.

-- Faye Fiore

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