Ryan Chartrand

Local cyclists commuting to Farmers’ Market every week now have the option of enjoying a little peace of mind along with their produce and craft goods.

The San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition, along with Team SLO Nexus, a local cycling club, are offering a free Bike Valet service for patrons who would like a safe place to park their bikes while out strolling the market. The location is at the intersection of Morro and Higuera streets.

Since its beginning, the service has evolved into not only a place where people can park their bikes for safekeeping, but also a place where they can get information about the local cycling community.

“Bike Valet has generally grown in popularity, both as a place to park bicycles, strollers and skateboards and as a place to ask questions about preferred bike routes and get the latest information on bike events in the county,” said Jessica Berry, Bicycle Programs Coordinator for SLO Regional Rideshare. She ensures that enough volunteers are scheduled each week to make the service a success.

The valet parks anywhere between 26 and 50 items per Farmers’ Market.

The very first Bike Valet was held in February of this year, in conjunction with the Amgen Tour of California, and was solely Team SLO Nexus’ project. They then decided to work together with the SLO County Bicycle Coalition and run the operation downtown each week at the Farmers’ Market, beginning on May 4, 2006. This date corresponded with the start of Bike Month. They also collaborated with the city of San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association for a successful start.

The project is completely funded by volunteers at this point, from donations – such as the one from Rod Hoadley of Peak Racks, who donated the bicycle racks for the valet – to bodies; each valet service requires about six volunteers to run effectively every week.

There is a main group of about ten volunteers who make decisions for the group, and bring essential supplies for each week. Peak Racks also created many of the bike racks in use around town, such as in front of Linnea’s, Mountain Air, and the San Luis Obispo City/County Library.

According to an article in The Tribune published on Sept. 20 called “Today’s Focus: Wheels: Bike Valet,” Adam Fukushima, Executive Director of the SLO County Bicycle Coalition, said that the organization’s ideal goal is to envision San Luis Obispo County as a “vibrant community where walking, cycling and convenient transit make personal transportation safe, simple and fun.”

Plans are in the works to secure funding for a part-time coordinator for the project, but for now the valet service will go on as it has been. As interest in the service has grown, organizers have decided to extend the valet service past its original end date of Oct. 26.

They anticipate that the influx of new students will give them the chance to educate even more people about cycling in San Luis Obispo County.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Bike Valet at Farmers’ Market can contact Jessica Berry at jberry@rideshare.org.

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