What is Bicycle Valet Parking?
A bicycle valet service, or bike corral, allows a large number of bikes to be securely stored in a relatively small area without individuals having to worry about locking their bicycles and reduces problems for other pedestrian traffic trying to get to the event. They are general used at events that will attract a large number of bicyclists. It also creates a gathering point for cyclists attending the event -- this encourages people to ride. The organization running the valet bike parking has great exposure to the local cycling population. The event and community benefit from the decrease in demand for car parking.
How do we Run Bike Valet Parking?
Basically, the set-up is an administration area and rows of racks for bicycle parking. (Pedal & Park has posted plans for DIY A-frame bike racks at http://pedalandpark.org/our-bike-racks/.). People bring their bikes, they are given a number ticket/tag and a duplicate ticket/tag is taped to the bicycle. The bicycle is then parked in the corral. If you allow the owner to park their bike the process takes less volunteers and the bicyclists will know where to find their bikes at the end of the event. Labeling the rows of racks can facilitate navigation. Suggest that the bikes be parked by hanging them by the front of saddle horn. At the end of the event the bicyclist return to the administrative area with their ticket/tag, which allows them entry into the corral. The go and find their bike and return to the administrative area. As they leave their ticket/tag it is matched with the number on the bike and they are free to go. For a good discussion on bike tracking system and event bike racks see http://www.bikecollectives.org/wiki/index.php?title=Valet_Bike_Parking.
The site set-up reflects upon the organization managing the bike valet. Make sure the site looks professional, safe, secure and informative. Take the opportunity to get your message out. It helps if the staff is wearing identifiable clothing; common T-shirt, orange-vest, etc. Volunteers should have weather appropriate dress and accessories (scarves, gloves, sunhats, sunscreen, re-usable water bottle, etc.)
Securing the Site
With enough volunteers watching the bikes a border may not be needed. HOWEVER, it gives bicyclists piece of mind to see that their bikes are in a protected area and barriers can make the job of supervision easier and more clear-cut. If the site is against a building or fence(s) you have already reduced the exposure. (Even with barriers and an identified perimeter, some bicyclists will want to lock their bikes in the corral, which usually isn't a problem.) By using reusable materials (fencing, movable orange posts, caution tape, or brightly colored nylon rope) you can keeps the environmentally friendliness of the project high. It is best for the corral to have only one entrance/exit. It is also ideal to locate the site where bicyclists, coming and going, have easy access without interfering with other pedestrian patrons of the event.
What You Might Need
Bike Valet Procedures:
The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
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