Bike Valets, Bike Racks, and WABA’s Parking Efforts

When we first heard of Jon Stewart’s plans for a “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington, DC, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek letter to The Daily Show offering a bike valet during the event and re-posted it on Facebook.  In addition to a great deal of support for the idea from our friends, we’ve gotten a fair number of questions about valets and about bike parking in general.  (What we haven’t gotten is any response from the event organizers–but we’re still hopeful.) But I wanted to take this opportunity to explain WABA’s bike parking efforts and how they fit into our overall mission: First and foremost, we want people on bikes.  And we do everything we can to eliminate barriers or impediments to cycling.  Sometimes that includes advocacy campaigns for better street design.  Sometimes it means fighting for stronger enforcement of safety laws.  But in some cases, it just means giving people a safe place to put their bikes once they get where they’re going. Bike Valets: For large events expected to draw a substantial number of cyclists to the same space, we host bike valets.  Essentially, a bike valet is a cordoned-off area with sturdy, portable racks.  You show up, hand the bike to the valet staff or volunteer, sign your name and cell number, and we watch your bike for the duration of the event.  You don’t need a lock, you don’t need to compete for rack space, and you know someone is keeping an eye on your bike. For us, valets are a rather significant logistical undertaking involving moving many racks (usually by bike), setting up fencing, organizing check-in and check-out, and ensuring staff and volunteer coverage for the entire event.  (Most folks who try to do it themselves once decide to let us handle it the next time.)  But for you, it’s meant to make arriving by bike easier than any other mode of transportation by taking away the parking-related stress entirely. Our costs for providing valets are generally covered by the event organizer and any profit goes to fund WABA’s advocacy and educational activities.  So one way to help WABA as an organization is to ask event organizers to include WABA valets.  And where there is a valet, please use it. Bike Racks: More recently, WABA has begun a program, in partnership with DDOT, of installing bike racks in the District.  At the outset, we are focused on installing racks in locations where they have already been requested through DDOT.  But we soon hope to be able to provide secure rack installation as a fee-for-service program, with all proceeds again going to fund advocacy and education.  Our partners at Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling have also submitted an application for grant funds to allow them to install a limited number of racks in Fairfax County, VA.  So we are hopeful that our capacity to install permanent racks in response to user demand will grow rapidly with the support of property owners and local jurisdictions. Bike Parking Expertise: If you have questions about bike parking, need advice on how to configure your setup, or want feedback from a guy who has researched the options, managed the parking of thousands of bikes, and locked his own bike to nearly every type of rack/sign/and possibly tree in the District, please contact our Bike Parking Program Coordinator, Danny Koniowsky, at