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Bike safety in focus as the Calgary Downtown Association offers valet service

You’ll soon be able to park your bike with the same service and security as a car with Calgary Downtown Association’s new bike valet service.

The Calgary Downtown Association (CDA) is launching a bike valet service this summer from July 27 until September, hoping to extend the service to October. The service is currently in its pilot phase and plans to welcome public feedback through surveys to assess if the service is needed annually. 

The bike valet service is being implemented in connection with the festival season in Calgary. Mark Garner, Executive Director at CDA said they’ve noticed an uptake in festival and event attendees choosing to cycle. 

“We wanted to offer a bike valet service so you don’t have to worry about your bike while you’re enjoying one of the festivals, events or you’re down here to go to a restaurant or you’re here for another activation,” said Garner. 

The valet service will be available to cyclists Thursday to Sunday between the hours of 3:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Garner said that the majority of activations in the downtown core happen between those hours, which is why the CDA wanted to ensure they had the proper cycling infrastructure. 

With the facilities to house 200 bikes through the valet service, cyclists are invited to bring their bikes to the valet attendants, take a ticket and leave their bikes knowing that it’s in a secure location. The bike valet service will be located on 8 Avenue SW, across from The Palace Theatre. 

The service is free to use this summer, however, the CDA will consider donation options or potential partnerships in the future, depending on how the pilot phase goes.

“The CDA is providing this free service to any of the cyclists that come downtown this summer…we want to incentivize cyclists to increase their cycling use and get downtown and discover downtown,” said Garner. 

What are cyclists’ thoughts on the service? 

Having the valet service will provide peace of mind for cyclists in the downtown, according to a local bike advocacy group.

“Finding a safe place to park it is certainly top of mind every time,” said Doug Clark, VP at Bike Calgary referring to cycling downtown. 

Clark recalled cycling downtown the other day and noticing a person guarding two bikes, likely waiting for their biking partner to come out of the store. He thinks that the bike valet service will help alleviate that stress. 

“Especially if it’s provided as a free service, which is the plan, then there’s really no barrier to utilizing it and feeling comfortable that you will have a bike when you come back to ride home with,” said Clark. 

Clark said that if people had to pay for the service or make a donation, then that could become a potential barrier to utilizing the service and could cause people to think twice. 

Garner said that the CDA is in its last phase in launching the pilot valet service, all that is left is to hire the right candidates. Applicants are welcome to apply until July 14, 2023. More information about the application process can be found here

“We just need to finish the hiring process and then we’re basically up and running,” said Garner.