Some events (Celebrate Davis, Clips of Faith) offer valet bike parking to attendees. Anyone with a bike can drop it off at the valet area and receive a ticket. Upon returnng with the ticket their bike is returned to them. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition provides valet parking at weekly Farmer's Markets, among other events.
UC Davis and the City of Davis often provide bike racks for valet parking. SABA provides valet services to cyclists at many Sacramento events. Check their Valet Parking Page for more information. They request a fee from event organizers depending on the number of bikes parked, and will also rent their racks and other valet materials to those who'd rather take the DIY route.
Arranging Valet Parking for your Event
Anyone can do this for any event, more or less. It just takes some time and effort and a few volunteers.
Things You'll Need
- Bike Racks
- Shade tent (if warm)
- Caution tape or plastic fence
- Sign-in sheets
- Roll of Tickets (the kind that has two rows of tickets, one for the bike and one for the person, with matching numbers)
Getting Racks from the City
The city doesn't currently have a Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, so it seems the folks to contact are at the Public Works department - firstname.lastname@example.org, 530.750.5686 - they seem to respond well to phone calls. If the person who picks up the phone doesn't know about bike racks ask for Eric Spann, Roxanne Namazi, or possibly Bob Wolcott. (I believe I talked to Eric Spann last time I did this and he was very helpful. —DarinWick) There are 8 racks, each about 10 feet long. The city may be able to deliver them, but save the city employees some time by picking them up if you can. A pickup works, or the Bike Collective's Mobile Ministry Unit can take them in two trips (email email@example.com if you want to try it). The racks live at the Public Works Corporation Yard on 5th street.
Getting Racks from the University
For the campus racks, contact the UC Davis Bicycle Coordinator (currently David Takemoto-Weerts). He's quite good at responding to email quickly. The racks are made from PVC. They can be taken apart and carried in a burley-style kid trailer, given sufficient ingenuity and lots of bungee cords. One person working quickly can set them all up in less than 40 minutes. Four of the "U"-shaped pieces linked together make a unit that holds 8 bikes and can still be moved easily. There is enough to make 8-10 of these units, probably?
Pick an area and lay out the racks with wide (8-10') aisles on all sides - you'll need more space than you expect to get bikes in and out. You can also leave a large area open for bikes with kickstands.
Put a table at the entrance and fence around the racks with caution tape or orange plastic construction fencing. Leave one or two entrances by the table.
From the roll of tickets tear off 15-20 pairs. Put tape on the "Ticket" side (not the "Keep this Coupon" side) and tape them to the table in numerical order. Put out a few sign-in sheets with columns for:
- Ticket Number
- Phone Number (in case someone leaves their bike)
- Email (optional)
- Bike description (short - "green trek 400", "yellow, white basket")
Sign-in sheets work well on clipboards. Put out a number of pens, or tie pens to the clipboards.
The front table is also a good place for a donation jar or some very obvious flyers.
People often don't realize the valet parking exists or is free, but this can often be fixed with signs at entrances to the area and at nearby bike racks.
Try Davis Bicycles! or the Davis Bike Collective. Or find some of your own! Community service groups like Lambda Omicron Xi, Campus Rotaract Club of Davis, and others listed on the Volunteer Opportunities page have provided some volunteers for bike valet events in the past.
Five volunteers can easily park about 300 bikes over 5 hours with breaks for everyone to enjoy the event. Just make sure everyone is back at the end to take care of the last-minute "Oh, valet parking doesn't last all day/night?!" rush. Notifying people of the event's end time when giving them the ticket helps with this, especially if the time you offer is 20 minutes before the actual end of the event.
- Shouting "Valet bike parking! It's free!" at confused people with bikes
- Giving people tickets, putting corresponding tickets on bikes, and directing people to the sign-in sheets
- Moving bikes to the racks (try to arrange them by ticket number; makes them easier to find)
- Tearing off tickets from the roll, adding tape, and putting them on the table in numerical order
- Retrieving bikes (hopefully by number)
If you have difficulty finding a bike, just ask the owner to come in and help you find it. If an owner loses their ticket, I would consider it entirely fair to make them wait until there's a lull in people claiming bikes before you go through the sign-in sheets and find their ticket number. If they lose their ticket, they should provide some form of ID if you don't remember them.