Ace Parking, which manages a range of parking facilities around the country and also provides valet services, has come out in support of a new and experimental bike valet service being offered at the Barclays Center in New York City. The new effort is an attempt to encourage those who live in the Brooklyn neighborhoods surrounding the center to bike to events, thus freeing up public transportation and cutting down on congestion on the streets.
Transportation Alternatives, which is an advocacy group, is planning its first test-run of the bike valet service at a concert featuring the Brooklyn-based band The National. Volunteers from the organization will collect the bikes and helmets of those coming in for the concert, and will store them in bike racks, carefully distributing them to their owners after the show. The benefits to riders are plenty: they do not need to carry a bulky helmet or bike lock with them to the performance, and the service is free of charge.
The professionals at Ace Parking support this innovative idea stating, “Bikes are an enjoyable mode of transportation that also provide good exercise. However, many people are hesitant to bike in to an event because they don’t want to carry their helmet, lock, and other items with them. This makes it easier than ever for concertgoers to bike in without worry, thus allowing them to come in and leave their bike with a trustworthy service.”
In the past, those attending concerts or events at the Barclays Center relied heavily on trains and subways to reach the arena. Some of this is because attendees do not want to bike in the winter; the center opened in September 2012, right as the cold weather was coming in. However, a large portion is simply because the steel bike racks have been underutilized. In fact, many of the racks (which can hold 400 bikes) are nearly empty most of the time.
Ashley Cotton, who is the vice president of developer Forest City Ratner Enterprises which manages the area, notes, “It’s just been one of those annoyances that our bike lot hasn’t been fully used yet.”
Paul Steely White, who is the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, explains that the success of bike valets in the past shows that a bit of convenience can prove appealing to those heading to special events. Transportation Alternatives has already had success with similar services at the Celebrate Brooklyn concert series at the Prospect Park band shell, as well as the Great GoogaMooga food festival.
Ace Parking notes, “The fact that these services have been appreciated and enjoyed in the past just proves that there is even more reason to start using bike valet services at major arena like Barclays. It gives bikers the chance to enjoy the same ‘drop and go’ mentality that is available for car valet services. It will also help to diversify a person’s transportation options when it comes to getting to or from an event. Based on past experiences where these services were successful, it seems as though it will be possible to begin another popular bike service at Barclays.”
Revenue is only part of the reason why Transportation Alternatives, which lobbies for bike and pedestrian-friendly policies in the city, are overseeing the new service. Though the group will get paid $850 from Forest City for their efforts, White explains that the work has a greater purpose, noting, “For us, the value of doing bike valet is as an organizing tool.” He notes that the group takes the e-mail addresses that the riders give when they drop off their bikes with the valet.
The bike valet service is run by a mixture of paid workers and volunteers. Evan Feldman, who works for Transportation Alternatives, notes that in his three seasons with the service, the group has handled roughly 20,000 bikes and “never had a problem.”
The use of bikes to get to and from the Barclays Center was originally supposed to become more of a part of the arena from the start. The developer had hoped to have a bike storage center that could fit 400 bikes in a space next to the arena. However, as the construction timetable shifted, the creation of that building and its bike room were pushed back.
To date, this kind of bike service has gained popularity in other places where bikes are a common form of transportation. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition uses a manager and 23 bike supervisors, as well as a number of volunteers, to get bikes parked and stored at San Francisco Giants baseball games. This group also oversees the bikes that arrive at food and music festivals in the city.
Kristin Smith, who is the communications director of The San Francisco Bike Coalition, believes that the service has helped to encourage people to use this form of transportation to get to their destinations. She states, “When people know that their bike will be safe, it makes sense to pedal to the event, to not worry about parking their car, trying to grab a cab, or manage the overflowing buses.”
The team at Ace Parking encourages the development of similar parking services around the country, explaining that such choices “make it easier for bikers to enjoy the same ease that those in cars can experience when valet services are available.”
Ace Parking manages parking services at offices, hotels, hospitals, retail spaces, airports, stadiums, and arenas. They also coordinate the parking for special events, and provide valet services. The group partners with their clients to carefully analyze the area’s demographics and traffic patterns, thus allowing them to streamline parking so it is effortless. This helps the parking facility to earn more revenue. The business was started in 1950 by Evan Jones, who realized that his city of San Diego, California was rapidly expanding and would soon need well-managed parking facilities. Since then, Ace Parking has grown to employ more than 4,500 people. The team at Ace greets nearly 250,000 customers each day, and manages 450 parking applications all over the country. Regardless of the type of venue, the professionals at Ace are able to make parking a smooth and enjoyable process.