This month we are delighted to have a 25th anniversary story from BEST’s former Executive Director, Marg Mahan, about the origins of The Bicycle Valet, which after some “interesting” early adventures has evolved into BEST’s much-loved flagship program. Speaking of our great programs, Commuter Challenge is on from June 5-11 so we'll give you some useful tips on how you can get primed for that event. We also have a series of stories from the current incarnation of The Bicycle Valet, including info on where we are going to be in June (lots of places!), news about our fantastic new sponsor (Earnest Ice Cream!), and details on our new partnership (with the VPD and Project 529 at Granville Island!). Also this month we are excited to announce that June marks the return of the iconic June is Bike Month (on a smaller scale), and we introduce our new Living Streets coordinator, Arlene Janousek, and tell you how to get involved with this innovative prorgram. As if that wasn't enough for one month, we have some important information on the sale of Mobi memberships, and an announcement about CycleHack upcoming event at the HiVE. Happy June everyone, and see you out and about!
|BEST's 25th Anniversary
The Bicycle Valet: Social enterprise comes to BEST
by Marg Mahan
When I first came to BEST Sarah Albertson was running the community outreach program, and among the innovative things in that project (including guerrilla gardening with flower bombs) was a bicycle valet parking service to 6 Canadians games in the summer of 2007.
As the funding the organization had been relying on disappeared just before my tenure, and with other indications for worse to come in the years immediately ahead, it seemed that developing some stable sources of revenue would be a good idea. And in this way social enterprise came to BEST.
While some of the folks in the office said no one would ever pay for bike parking, (and they were right in the sense that cyclists will lock up somewhere else if there is a mandatory fee), we thought that we could design something that would make it an attractive service to big events in Vancouver.
Translink came on as our first sponsor – Gavin Davidson understood the potential trajectory of a Bicycle Valet service to change riding habits, especially of families.
Cam Brewster ran it for us the first year, then Geoffrey Vincent. For those early years we rented a U-haul truck, and rented the bike racks and scraped together external fencing. We tried on several models before we settled on the light weight and space and storage efficient tube system. We worked hard at it, but as we were building the service without any real capitalization, it still looked pretty amateurish.
The first year we parked 600 bikes, the second 1200, and the third 1350.
Our rates to community events were low, in fact less than it cost us to be there, but we were building goodwill and the expectation amongst cyclists that The Bicycle Valet would show up at events they wanted. The Famers Market was one early adopter, facilitated by a small grant from Vancity.
As we grew, we occasionally had event managers decide to do their own BV service after a year with us. The deceptively-simple looking operation in fact had matured and so appearances were indeed deceptive. Those events almost always came back to us after their experiment in bringing the service in house.
The City of Vancouver gave us a huge boost with funding for a complete Bicycle Valet service for the Olympics in 2010. That grant also staved off a disaster with cash flow for BEST, and we will always be grateful to the City for that vote of confidence.
In the summer and fall of 2009 we had a young new employee named Stephanie, who helped Steve to run The Bicycle Valet - between the 2 of them they really built it out. I had to fight with them sometimes – the issue of collecting email addresses from clients on the tags was a hot topic as I recall.
Steady growth, solid leadership from Steve and then Stephanie, maintaining excellent service, making a volunteer experience that is fun, and keeping a close eye on the bottom line … all these things have made a successful operation. It gives to the community, it gives to the organization in terms of public presence, cash flow and now even contribution to BEST projects. I’m proud to have been associated with birthing this wholly good thing in Vancouver and BC.
* * *
Marg Mahan was the Executive Director of BEST from 2007-14, where she created The Bicycle Valet and other new programs. She now devotes her energy to the teaching of the classical Indian subjects that she has studied for the past 25 years.
Ready, Set, Commute!
The BC Commuter Challenge is next week! BC, have you had a chance to warm up, stretch and prepare for a week of sustainable commutes?! Since the Commuter challenge is a multi-modal event, your preparation might involve one of these many provisions:
- Carpoolers, talk with coworkers to decide who can drive which days and figure out the most efficient routes.
- Transit goers, research your route beforehand and get some helpful apps.
- Walkers and runners, time your average pace and make sure you have appropriate footwear.
- Cyclists, learn your ABC’s! (Air, brakes & chain)
- New carshare members, register and run some errands... Not by yourself though, of course!
- Telecommuters, make sure you’re set up to succeed in the comfort of your home, coffee shop or shared workspace.
Other modes of active and sustainable transportation, tweet to us @bc_commuter and let us know what you do to prepare for your commute! For some helpful commuting resources and promos, check out this page.
Happening June 5-11, it’s never too late to register. You can log commutes all at the same time or every day, before, during or shortly after the event. Everyone in BC is welcome to participate.
Check out these graphs based on a Survey from Insight West. Surprised? Ready to make a change? Register!
What’s the incentive!? Avoiding CO2 emissions, friendly competition, promoting your workplace as eco-friendly, team building and more than $8,000 in prizes to be won for participation!
The Bicycle Valet: Off to a record-setting year!
We reached a new May record of 275 bikes parked at a
In May, it started to get busy at The Bicycle Valet! Between three Whitecaps games we also took care of bikes at the BMO Vancouver Marathon, BMO Walk So Kids Can Talk, and the Vancity AGM. As always we were at the Bike To Work Week Launch Party, and we had our first year at TEDx Stanley Park at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Also, we had our *always* legendary Volunteer Appreciation Party! BBQ and beer enjoyed by all!!
Whitecaps game! This is only the beginning of the season,
so we expect to knock that record out of the park
as things heat up this summer!
Shots from our legendary Volunteer Appreciation Party on May 13th,
taken by our new Living Streets Coordinator, Arlene Janousek.
June is a perfect month for biking and is full of amazing events (in fact, June is Bike Month!):
The Bike to Work Week Launch Party at Central City Brewing!
The Bicycle Valet welcomes Earnest Ice Cream!
You would be this excited about a free Earnest Ice Cream cone too!
In MORE amazing Bicycle Valet news, we have an amazing new contest prize sponsor- Earnest Ice Cream!! The folks at Earnest Ice Cream make delicious ice cream, and also love bicycles. We’re so excited to welcome them as a contest sponsor... after all, what goes better with summer than bicycles and some seriously good ice cream?
What can you win? By filling in your claim stub and entering it in the contest box on site (after you get your bike back, of course), 2 people per week will be sent coupons for free ice cream cones, and 1 lucky winner a month will get a luxurious prize pack including pints of ice cream and fabulous Earnest Ice Cream swag!!
The Bicycle Valet joins forces with Project 529
Our fabulous seasonal location on Granville Island is back this year -
7 days a week! And with FREE Project 529 bike registration!!
Very exciting news for The Bicycle Valet - we’ll be back at our location on Granville Island 7 days/week starting June 11th!! The wood carving shed at 1537 Johnston Street is where you can find us (same location as last year!), 10am to 7:30pm. We'll also be doing a dry run to test things out during Bike to Work Week on Saturday June 4th from noon to 5pm, so come on by for a visit and get your bike registered!
How did this come about, you ask? We’ll be working with the Vancouver Police Department and Project 529 to register your bikes!
Your bike is always safe with The Bicycle Valet, but we aren’t everywhere you want to go (wouldn’t that be nice though?), so Project 529 will be there to help protect you the rest of the time. The VPD has purchased shields with Project 529 to put on your bike for FREE, then you download the FREE app to your phone, and you’re set! The shield on your bike lets thieves know your bicycle is registered with the police, so it’s less of a target. If someone were to steal it anyway, you already have all the information you need to help get it back, and you can use the app to immediately notify police and everyone around you with the app to look out for your favourite ride. The VPD recover thousands of bikes every year, but have an extremely difficult time finding the owners. Project 529 is helping to fill that gap, and with the 6,000 bikes already registered in Vancouver, they’re hoping to #endbiketheft in BC.
At Granville Island we’ll be helping them register your bikes (for FREE!) as you park them (for FREE!) and check out the local shops and markets (less free, but a wonderful pass-time, we think!). We’ll also be able to register your bike at many of our other events… so if you see us around town, just ask!
If you would like to be a regular volunteer at Granville Island (with perks), contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up here.
June is Bike Month is back!
Well, June is here. You know what that means: BC Commuter Challenge, HUB’s Bike to Work Week... AND June is Bike Month! That’s right, we’ve brought back our iconic campaign (on a small scale) to promote biking and fun in Metro Vancouver, in June!
Check out the website to find out what’s going on in June, bike-related, submit an event yourself, and get out there on your ride.
Want to help promote and include the iconic logo on your materials? Check out our resources section and get going.
Thank you to Steve Kisby for getting this initiative on the road!
Kicking off the 2016 season
We are excited to announce that BEST’s Living Streets program has started for the 2016 season. The Living Streets program combines environmental education, youth and immigrant engagement, and civic participation with the overall goal of moving towards sustainable transportation in the City of Surrey. Living Streets will be hosting educational presentations with a focus on the value of active transportation, and leading groups on street audits to identify barriers to participating in sustainable transportation.
We are also pleased to introduce Arlene Janousek, the new coordinator for the Living Streets program. Arlene is currently completing her master's degree in resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University and is focusing on sustainable community development. Outside of work, Arlene can be found wandering the streets of Vancouver with her camera in-hand. This spring and summer Arlene will be administering street audits in Surrey to engage participants and collect data to help make sustainable transportation a more viable option in Surrey.
Living Streets is also recruiting volunteers for summer 2016, so if you would like to get involved or participate in an audit, you can reach Arlene at email@example.com or 604-669-2860, ext. 201.
This sign in Surrey helps people navigate, whether
they are on foot or on bike - photo taken on our
first street audit of the season.
Mobi founding memberships now on sale
As many readers have likely heard by now, the City of Vancouver is in the process of finalizing preparations to launch their new bike share program, Mobi.
A total of 1,500 bikes at 150 stations will be available by the end of summer 2016, with the initial service area to include the Downtown Peninsula, bounded by Arbutus Street, 16th Avenue, and Main Street.
The program will be run by Vancouver Bike Share Inc. (a subsidiary of Ottawa-based CycleHop).
Until June 30 founding memberships (which include exclusive benefits like a helmet discount) are on sale at a special discounted price of $99 or $129 for one year, depending on the plan chosen. To more information and to sign up for a membership go here.
BEST is excited to see the start of this great new addition to the active transportation network in Vancouver!
CycleHack event at the HiVE
CycleHack is a global movement that is tooling up citizens to take a proactive DIY approach to reducing the barriers to cycling.
Vancouver is one of 30+ cities around the world hosting a CycleHack event from June 24-26. At the event at the HiVE you will hear from an exciting range of speakers, prototype ideas, and design new ways to improve the experience of cycling for all types of road users here in Vancouver and around the world -- all within 48 hours!
Get your tickets to the event here. Learn more on the website and get involved on Facebook and Twitter.
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