Topic Resources

Tools Used
Initiated By

BEST

Best's Bicycle Valet

Want to encourage more people to cycle to special events instead of taking their cars? Here's a great way to make it easier for them to do so. BEST's Bicycle Valet, operating in Metro Vancouver, provides free and safe special-event parking for bicycles and other modes of active transportation, allows event patrons to leave their  helmets, panniers and other cycling apparel, and offers cycling route maps, transit maps and other information about active transportation. The service is paid for by the event organizers and sponsored by Travelsmart.

Background

The Bicycle Valet provides free and safe special-event parking for bicycles and other modes of active transportation, which helps encourages patrons of concerts, farmers markets, street parties and other events to sustainably reach their destinations. The service also allows event patrons to leave their helmets, panniers and other cycling apparel, and offers cycling route maps, transit maps and other information about active transportation. It is operated by BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation)

Free to the user, costs are borne by event organizers looking to “green” their events and increase their triple bottom line. Providing ample opportunities for sponsorship and advertising, both onsite and online, the Bicycle Valet is a developing social enterprise that advocates for sustainable transportation through a solutions based approach.

Getting Informed

Extensive research was done on existing Bicycle Valet programs in San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC and other places. Local market research established the need for a program and identified branding and service parameters with the highest likelihood of success, considering market conditions, competition, price barriers, and overall social and institutional support.

Delivering the Program

The key strategy and tactic has been to engage event organizers and management companies, and stakeholders such as municipalities and the transit authority, illustrating the positive benefits to them in terms of reduced traffic congestions, reduced clutter from parked bicycles as well as environmental impacts and a boost to PR and company image. Concurrently, BEST built a broad cyclist user base and database of supporters by offering contest prizes to cyclists who sign up.

Beginning as an adjunct to another program the service has grown exponentially year to year in the numbers of event days serviced and the number of bikes parked. For example in 2009 BEST parked about 7,000 bikes at 38 events; in 2010, about 13,500 at 80+ events (including Winter Olympic venues); and in 2011, over 22,000 bikes at about 150 events. User surveys indicates that a good portion of users are choosing to ride to the event because they know there is safe and secure bicycle parking available.

Overcoming Barriers

Event participants: The approach was developed to help overcome barriers such as inconvenience and fear of bicycle theft, so that more event participants are willing to leave their cars at home and cycle to events instead.

Event organizers: The main barrier initially was in events not recognizing the need for the service, as well as budget concerns. These have been reduced by delivering a highly visibly, professionally run service with each event feeding into greater demand for future events. BEST strives to work with community organizations to reduce costs by using a combination of paid staff and volunteers, and has targeted professional event management organizations who recognize the value of and need for the service and are cognizant of the costs of delivering excellent service.

Financing the Program

Operating since 2006 with start-up funding from the City of Vancouver and TransLink, to help cover capital and initial operating costs, the Bicycle Valet has grown into a cost-recovery operation. The costs are paid for by the event organizers.

Results

By January 2012, the service had parked over 40,000 bicycles, with 22,000 parked in 2011 alone.

Contacts

BEST

Stephanie Williams
stephanie.williams@best.bc.ca
(604)-669-2860

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