[an error occurred while processing this directive]July
Joys of Valet Parking Experienced by Bicyclists, Covered by BikeTV
Brooklyn, after all these years of second-class city-ship, of striving for global recognition, of working towards the finer things in life, we've finally arrived. Ladies and gentleman, valet bicycle parking has come to Brooklyn.
Bringing to bikes that luxury we New Yorkers thought existed only on the West Coast (valet parking), is Transportation Alternatives, the not-for-profit group that works triple overtime for the rights of pedestrians and cyclists in New York City. Most recently, valet bike parking services were offered free to visitors of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Summer film Series last Thursday night.
"We've been doing it for a couple of years, now," said Jessica Goldbogen, the valet bike parking coordinator for Transportation Alternatives. "We're trying to build a program offering free parking for city events...[so that] more people will ride bikes."
The system is highly organized. When people arrive by bicycle, they are greeted by Jessica and her helpers. "May we park it?" they ask, as cordial as a porter at a five-star hotel. Numbered tickets are then attached by pipe cleaners to the handlebars of the bicycle, and walked over to the parking area, where they are keenly watched over and protected. Over sixty bikes were parked at the film showing, and valet bike parking will be offered for the remainder of the summer series, which takes place every Thursday evening at 9 p.m.
Some other events at which Transportation Alternatives folks may be seen jauntily parking other people's bikes are other outdoor movie festivals in Manhattan, pier 54 events and the Transportation Alternatives annual party--their biggest attended bike parking event.
Among those who utilized the valet parking services at the Brooklyn Bridge Park on Thursday, comments ranged from excited to jaded. Some bikers have grown so used to seeing Transportation Alternatives and their valet parkers that they ride up without so much as a nod, hop off their bikes, toss them to attendant and walk away without breaking stride. This is seen as a good sign by members of the parking crew. who hope that it will become no less than a city standard in years to come.
Other, less encumbered bikers were thrilled. "It's a real luxury," said one cyclist as he swapped his bike for a numbered ticket. "It's usually so hard to find bike parking!" exclaimed another, who apparently had a recent, harrowing experience trying to find a place to cool her wheels at a Brooklyn Cyclones game. Believe it or not, many bikers will attest to the tact that it is indeed very difficult to find adequate parking facilities in NYC. And motorists thought they had it bad!
BikeTV: Our Eyes and Ears in the Bike World
For those who missed it, or missed any other bicycling event in the city, for that matter, BikeTV comes to the rescue. BikeTV is a cable-access show based in NYC which covers anything and everything that happens on two non-motorized wheels. Clarence Eckerson, a spokesman for BikeTV, was on hand to tape the valets at work. With close ties to Transportation Alternatives (Clarence has been the chair of the Brooklyn Transportation Alternatives Committee since the Fall of 2000), BikeTV does a fair amount of work in bicycle advocacy, providing information about and helping to improve cycling conditions throughout the five boroughs. They've covered such important issues as the movement for car-free parks and the East River pedestrian paths that were all opened with 24-hour access in 2001 for the first time in fifty years.
"New York is a city where over half the residents don't own cars," explained Clarence. "Considering that fact. it's a shame we don't take care of our pedestrians and cyclists.
Bike advocacy, however, is just part of the pie. "We like to emphasize me fun in cycling." said Clarence. "We cover bike trips, tours, rides... if it's got a bicycle in it, it's game." Each BikeTV segment is made up of four or five separate parts, mostly relating but definitely not limited to NYC. "It's not like there's two talking heads going on about biking, it's more like 20/20.'' It is a bike variety show of sorts, and much of the material is refreshingly lighthearted.
Some of the pieces Bike TV has produced have included bits on how to properly lock a bike, something that is a ground rule in NYC. Mr. Safety (real name Mike Gaughan) is a popular BikeTV figure who in his attempt to educate viewers on "reflectivity." or the use of reflective material to alert motorists to the presence of bikers at night, urged bikers to "expose themselves" to cars. Practicing what he preached, Mr. Safety did this segment while "exposing himself," his bare derriere visible to the viewers at home. Additionally BikeTV features the Bicycle Haiku Brothers who compose bike-related '5-7-3's on the spot, as well as cycling race coverage and mechanical advice on how to not "get ripped off" by local bicycle dealers. About half the filming takes place in Brooklyn, where most members of the BikeTV crew live.
With a core crew of seven people and a rotating band of external helpers, BikeTV is put together as a composite of pieces that are brought in by outsiders and insiders alike. "We tell people to bring a camera when they go on vacation, because when they get back we'll use the footage.'' said Clarence, who has gotten "incredible'' at filming while biking.
The BikeTV people are not professional bikers or hard-core racers. They simply love the activity as ordinary people, and bring their enthusiasm to every episode. BikeTV man Rob Rowan, alias The Cycle Disciple, who runs a cycling website by the same name (www.cycledisciple.com), doubles by day as a "soft-spoken financial consultant" and swears he cannot race. "I'm good at strategy, but I'm not strong," he said. Amateur and beginner cyclists should not be intimidated, as BikeTV is run by a host of people, all with various "day jobs," who create the show out of their homes in the hopes of communicating to the public both the exhilaration and rightness of bicycling in NYC.
Information regarding BikeTV can be obtained on their extensive website (www.BikeTV.org). BikeTV airs every Friday night at 10:30 p.m. on BCAT access Channel 34 (Time Warner) or 68 (Cablevision). Combining the zanybicycle antics that are the signatureof the show with current advocacy issues dealt straight from Transportation Alternatives, BikeTV is perhpas the best thing to ever hit plublic access television in New York City.
© 1997-2009 Transportation Alternatives
127 West 26th Street, Suite 1002
New York, NY 10001