Archive for October 26th, 2010
We announced on Facebook earlier today that we will not be able to provide a bike valet for the Stewart/Colbert Rally this weekend, and have since been inundated with calls and emails asking why. The short answer is: parking isn’t free. Not even for bikes.
We can run valets of all sizes, and our determination of whether we can do the valet comes down to a combination of the following factors:
(1) Is the valet needed & will it encourage folks to bike?
(2) Can we find a way to ensure we will cover our costs?
(3) Will we be able to make a little money to put toward our advocacy and outreach efforts?
Bike valets are a balancing act. Sometimes we’ll accept the loss of a little money if it means we can encourage a ton of people to bike. Sometimes we’ll do a valet where we don’t think it will be heavily used if it allows us fund further bike advocacy efforts or WABA programming.
But as the scale gets larger, the risks go up for us.
We have enough racks stored at strategic locations around the city that we can handle the valet for neighborhood events on the scale of the H Street Festival or Adams Morgan Day. But when the numbers start reaching into the thousands, we have to find auxiliary bike racks. And while we can use our few hundred feet of snow fencing to ensure the security of a small rack, we have to use real event barriers for the larger valets.
And with all that equipment comes rental fees. And rental fees for the vehicles to carry them, as we can no longer carry them by bike. And extra time to pickup, set up, take down, and return the equipment.
Then there’s the staff time to do all this prep work. And printing of valet tickets and supplies. (Not to mention permits to operate at the event in the first place, outreach to let folks know where the valets are located, and the million phone calls to coordinate all the logistics.)
But all that said, we LOVE to do it. We think valets are a huge inducement to event attendees to choose to go by bike, and that’s what we’re all about. WABA is extremely proud of its valets. We do them the most professionally and reliably. And we’re especially proud to have done the largest single-day bike valet in the nation for the President’s 2009 Inauguration.
But it takes time. It takes coordination. And it takes money.
Just like event organizers have to pay for the toilets or go without, they have to pay for the bike valet or go without. The only difference is that I don’t think the toilet guys really care if Jon Stewart’s rally has a toilet. We tried REALLY hard (as our Facebook fans know) to do this valet because we REALLY want people to be able to arrive by bike. But it didn’t work out this time.
If you want bike valets in the future, let event organizers know that you expect it. And let NPS know that you’d like to see bike parking considered when they’re granting permits for giant rallies and events in our backyard.
(And while on the topic, we would be remiss not to thank the DC Department of Transportation for its longstanding support of bike valets. They are the reason that DC has historically been so well-served by bike valets at events on the National Mall, and have helped us get to the point that the bike valet is expected at major area events. They have frequently stepped in to cover WABA’s costs for these services when the organizations hosting the events and the federal agencies overseeing the events have balked at providing a much-demanded service.)
But it’s time for event organizers to realize that for these large-scale events, bike parking soon won’t be just another optional amenity, but will be a logistical necessity. Like toilets.
Warm up your trivia muscles and head on over to Solly’s U St. Tavern (11th St. & U St. NW) on Wednesday, Nov. 3rd at 8pm to help support WABA at Trivia Night! Every first and third Wednesday at Solly’s, a different local nonprofit organization is the beneficiary of Trivia Night. So, gather some friends, make up a team name and come on down.
Two ways to contribute to WABA:
- For those of you who bike, we’ll be passing around a bucket for donations as well as holding a raffle all night long. Raffle tickets are $2 each or 3 for $5.
- WABA will be receiving 10% of the bar’s take during the game, so drink up! This is good night to leave the bike at home and take the Metro or a bus.
Here are some more details:
- Doors open at 8pm for Trivia contestants, but tables and chairs will go fast. The Trivia game usually lasts until 10:30 pm or so.
- Solly’s does not have a kitchen, but they will let you bring in outside food, so plan accordingly.
- There’s no cost to play!
More Information about Solly’s Tavern online at http://www.sollystavern.com/
A Safe Routes to School Bike Rodeo in Alexandria produced some promising new riders at Tucker Elementary School this past weekend. After educating approximately 60 student riders (and parents) about the basics of smart bicycling, handing out free helmets and ushering riders through a long skills course, WABA education staff started removing training wheels from some of the youngest rider’s bikes. The results were pretty amazing and after a few minutes of “pedals-off” scooting one 7 year old girl was ready to put her pedals back on. To the amazement of her father she took-off like she had been riding for years, a real pro!
Three more riders were liberated from their training wheels and several more made real progress towards freedom on 2 wheels. Glen Harrison, WABA bicycle education staff, encourages more parents to teach their children how to ride a bike by using this simple, effective method.
1) Lower the seat and remove the pedals (the left one is reverse threaded)
2) Have child scoot their bike with both feet on smooth, level surface (don’t hold the bike or rider, this will only hinder progress)
3) Insist on practicing until the rider can balance and steer in a straight line with both feet off the ground for 20-30 feet.
4) Raise the seat and re-install pedals.
5) Show rider how to step down on one raised pedal to create forward movement.
6) Rider should sit up, arms straight (but not locked) and looking out in front of the bike about 20 feet (don’t look at feet or front wheel).
7) Give gentle push on back to help get started until rider’s feet can “find” the other pedal.
8) Teach rider how to stop!