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The Daily Wildcat

 

Bike Valet still free for patrons a year after inception

TJ+Dalton%28in+purple%29+assists+a+customer+as+a+bike+valet+across+from+the+Student+Union+Memorial+Center+on+Monday+19+Sept+2011.++The+bike+valets+are+there+from+9+a.m.+to+6+p.m+and+will+watch+your+bike+for+free.+%0A%0AKeith+Hickman-Perfetti+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A
Keith Hickman-Perfetti
TJ Dalton(in purple) assists a customer as a bike valet across from the Student Union Memorial Center on Monday 19 Sept 2011. The bike valets are there from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m and will watch your bike for free. Keith Hickman-Perfetti / Arizona Daily Wildcat

More than 11,000 bikes vie for parking on campus every day. Despite this, the Bike Valet alternative bike-parking program continues to work to gain traction with students.

First implemented in August 2010, the Bike Valet service was meant to offer UA students, faculty and staff a secure place to park their bikes, at a cost of 50 cents per use. Usage fees would help offset the cost of the project, $3,000 in initial startup and around $15,000 in annual payroll to hire people to oversee the bike corral.

However, the Bike Valet became a free service shortly after it opened, in part to attract wider use by the campus community. And it will be free for the foreseeable future, according to Bill Davidson, the marketing specialist for Parking and Transportation Services.

Davidson said the service was used around 6,500 times in its first year, an average of about 75 times per day. Though he said this level of usage was expected, PTS has been working to advertise the service around campus.

He also said the Bike Valet has seen an increase in usage so far this year.

“We had a lot of established customers last year,” Davidson said. “I think that some of the customers who were using it last year helped recruit new people to it this year.”

Caleb Mendoza, a criminal justice sophomore, and Christopher Shirley, an anthropology major, have worked morning shifts at the Bike Valet since the beginning of this semester. Both estimated that they see about 50 people during their shift, which lasts for six to seven hours. Though neither of them bike to campus regularly, both said they would use the service if they did and would recommend it to others.

“It’s just way more convenient,” Shirley said. “U-locks can be a pain.”

Shirley should know, someone tried to cut through his once. But he said there have never been issues with bikes in the valet compound.

Mendoza said that plenty of people who use the service do so often.
“We have a lot of regulars,” he said.

Davidson said most Bike Valet users are repeat customers.

“We found that once people tried it they absolutely loved it,” Davidson said. “They keep coming back when we get them in the door.”

Despite this loyal base, Davidson said there are no plans to reinstitute fees for the service.

“Whenever we’ve started new programs we’ve always tried to give it a good two years before we decide to do something drastically with it,” Davidson said.

Rachel Pergamit, a junior studying environmental and water resource economics who bikes to and from campus every day, said Monday was her first time using the Bike Valet, and that she was only using it after her bike lock broke.

Pergamit said she remembered seeing the Bike Valet when it first debuted, but that she never would have used the service before it was free.

“A bike lock is easier and gets you about the same thing,” she said.
Pergamit also said she thinks the location of the Bike Valet is inconvenient, and that she likes to park her bike closer to her classes.

Angie Brown, a creative writing student going to school part-time, said it was her second time using the service, but that she found it more convenient than her bike locker.

PTS rents out a total of 194 bike lockers at 15 locations around campus for $90 a year, according to the PTS website.

“I find this (the Bike Valet) really easy,” Brown said. “I can drop my bike off, know it’s taken care of. And it’s in the shade, which is important to me.”

Davidson said the big draw of the Bike Valet is that it is a secure and safe place to park a bike.

But that security hasn’t attracted Megan Baker, an interdisciplinary studies senior who lives two miles from campus, to the service. Baker, who had two bikes stolen during her freshman year, said the Bike Valet is not open late enough for her to use consistently.

That is a concern held by Josh Smith, an engineering freshman who bikes to campus every day. Smith said he would definitely consider using the service if it was open late enough to accommodate his night classes.

Davidson said the Bike Valet, like all PTS programs, is continuously being evaluated for ways it can better serve the UA.
“We want to continue to respond to the requests of the cycling community on campus,” Davidson said, “and they want the valet.”

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