From Time, 05.25.07:
How Valet Parking Could Save the PlanetOutstanding. An article in an influential national publication that treats bicycling seriously (in spite of the writer's self-concious acknowledgement that valet bike parking might be another California eccentricity.)
Using a bicycle to get around has always been a bittersweet proposition in Southern California. Sure, it's eco-friendly, an excellent cardio workout and a pleasant alternative to snail's-pace public transportation, gridlocked freeways and king's-ransom gas prices. The drawback is finding a convenient, theft-proof parking spot.
But that may be starting to change. Long Beach has pioneered the creation of commuter-biking hubs offering valet parking, showers and repair services, and other cities in California and elsewhere in the U.S. are beginning to take note. "The concept is growing fast and helping bike commuting move from an invisible subculture to an organized pursuit that's part of the fabric of everyday urban life," says John Case, a retired real estate financier who brought the Bikestation concept from Europe to Long Beach in 1996.
Its popularity prompted public agencies and private groups in San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto and Seattle have followed suit. The city of Santa Monica provides free valet parking on Sundays outside the farmer's market. The city of Chicago and McDonald's built their own Cycle Center in Millennium Park three years ago. And earlier this month, the mayor of Santa Barbara, home to 5,000 daily bike commuters, cut the ribbon on the newest Bikestation, an $80,000 self-parking garage inside an auto parking garage, offering showers, a changing area and a bathroom for fee-paying members. Bike parking centers in Pasadena, Santa Monica and San Diego also are in the works.
And for valet attendant (Dominic) Dougherty, the facilities are harbingers of the future. "When all the gasoline runs out, the Priuses are going to be dead on the side of the road right beside the Hummers," he says. "But you'll still be able to get around on a bike." (Read more.)
Secure bike parking is an essential need for bike commuters. Yet it is too often overlooked--like smooth pavement--lacking the tangible visibility of bike lanes or bike paths. The bike station concept is certainly an appealing option, though it is realistic only in urban areas with concentrated employment centers.
In addition to the Bikestation at the Embarcadero BART station, San Francisco cyclists will soon enjoy the new Warm Planet Bicycles facility (not affiliated with Bike Station) at the downtown Caltrain station, managed by the incomparable Kash (just Kash), winner of a 2007 Golden Wheel Award from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips