Imagine a sunny and busy summertime day off lower State street. Parking spaces for both the Farmer's market and the downtown shops at capacity. Throw in a major festival, Sol Food, and how does it all work without causing even more congestion and gridlock?
One solution was vibrantly on display this past Saturday, as an estimated 250 cyclists rode to the Sol Food Festival, 160 of which decided to stay long enough to make use of the Bicycle Coalition's free Bicycle Valet Parking. The young entreprenuers and leaders at SB High School's Don's Net Cafe came out strongly to support our great coalition volunteers and helped park and pick up bicycles all day. It was one of the balmy downtown days that remind Santa Barbaran's why we live here. The positive and diverse mix of cyclists who rode out to Sol Food Festival and the Farmers market weren't just doing their part, but they were clearly having a great time.
The Sol Food Festival has grown considerably from it's inaugural year last year and highlighted the best of local agriculture and fine organic cusine. What a great way to affirm this event for those of us who live in town but to take the 'local option' and ride out to the event! And what a great opportunity to stock up on 'fuel' that was grown or raised locally, sustainably, and deliciously!
Just as in the over 6,500 bicycles valet parked so far by the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, not a single bike was stolen, lost, or damaged. Talk about pride in community service. As ususal, many of the bicycles did not have locks, and without the bike valet service, their owners would not have likely participated in the event beyond a qiuck 'scope out'. Bike valet not only lets cyclists rest easy about their bicycles security and personal effects, but also lets them particpate more in the event itself as a result. It also is a powerful incentive as many casual bicyclists decide to ride to the event instead of drive.
Many bike riders had used the bike valet service at previous events, and while certainly a luxury, it is increasingly becoming expected at major events in Santa Barbara. There is currently bike valet parking at every SB Bowl Show, each Saturday Farmers Market (provided by wheelhouse bike shop), every Earth Day, and at many large events throughout the City. As it becomes standard for more large events to provide bike valet parking to participants, these events cause less congestion and parking scarcity problems, and the number of attendees who choose to cycle increases measurably (often doubling) year to year!