The University Bike Valet has seen a huge jump in the number of people utilizing their bicycle valet this year over last.
According to Charles Franz, the UA’s alternative transportation program coordinator, they have parked 2,165 bikes between the start of school and Oct. 11. During the same period last year they parked 442 bikes. The difference represents a 390 percent increase.
Franz attributes the rise to the promotion the department has done during freshman orientation and the fact that it’s been there for a year for people to check out and get information about.
Franz said the students leading campus tours take the students and parents by the valet to tell them how it works.
UA freshman Mario Aubert-Vasquez said he discovered the bike valet when riding by one day. Now he uses it every time he goes to tutoring in a nearby building. He said it’s an easy process and the service is friendly.
Freshman Laura Kurtzberg also discovered the valet while riding though campus. Now she uses it almost every other day.
“I use it all the time when I come to the union because it is close and I don’t have to worry about locking up my bike, it getting stolen or it being in the sun,” she said. “I think it is really useful and I am glad that it is free.”
The valet wasn’t always intended to be free. The original plan was to charge 50 cents per use, but after a slow start the fee was continually pushed back until it was eliminated all together.
Franz said he hasn’t heard anyone suggest that they start charging for the service despite the approximately $15,000 it costs to run the program.
He said the program offers a lot of benefits including providing students with jobs, increasing the school’s sustainability, helping prevent bike thefts and making it easier for people to ride their bikes to campus.