of the Delray Beach GreenMarket and hand out valet tickets and little backpacks that people can use
to carry the things they bought at the market.
Photos by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Rich Pollack
Seasonal resident Bill Bannon had just ridden his bike to Delray Beach’s GreenMarket when he discovered not only an abundance of bike rack space available but also free valet parking — for his bicycle.
“I never heard of valet parking for a bicycle,” he said. “I thought it was a joke.”
But valet parking for bicycles is serious business to the folks at Human Powered Delray — the nonprofit organization providing the service at the Saturday morning market since the season began in October.
“People weren’t riding their bikes to the GreenMarket because there were only limited bike racks,” says Jim Chard, chairman of Human Powered Delray and strong advocate of seeing more pedestrians and bicycle riders in the city’s downtown area. “Many people didn’t even know there were bike racks.”
Now, thanks to Human Powered Delray’s free bike valet service, riders don’t have to worry about finding a bike rack. They don’t even have to worry about locking their bikes.
Instead, all they have to do is pull into a cordoned-off area at the southeast side of the market and check in with one of the attendants. Bicyclists can then pull their bikes into one of the vacant spots in bike racks provided by either the city or by Richwagen’s Bike & Sport.
A valet ticket is placed on the seat and riders receive a card that gives them special consideration with some GreenMarkets vendors.
In addition, Human Powered Delray provides bicyclists with a green cloth bag that doubles as a backpack to carry their purchases.
The valet parking for bicycles program has become popular among many regulars who come to the market each week and don’t have to worry about finding a place where they can hitch their bicycle.
“We have people from 4 years old to 84 years old ride their bicycle here,” says Chard, adding that about 75 percent of those who bike to the GreenMarket on Saturday are regular customers.
For many of them, the valet parking offers a convenience that was not available before.
“I love it,” says bicyclist Kim Layzell. “In the past, I would have to lock my bike to a tree. Now I don’t even have to lock it.”
Like many of the other bicyclists and the Human Powered Delray member, Layzell would like to see Delray Beach become more bicycle-friendly and safer for bike riders.
“When we talk to people we often hear them say that they’re afraid to bike here,” Chard said.
One goal of Human Powered Delray, Chard says, is to get more people riding their bikes and walking downtown. The group is also advocating for turning alleys in the city into bike and pedestrian pathways to make it safer for people on foot or on two wheels.
The free bike valet service, Chard says, is one more way to help Human Powered Delray get its message out.
This month, Human Powered Delray is teaming up with Max’s Social House for a four-week pilot Bike to Brunch program on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning on April 12.
“I’m an avid cyclist and thought it would be great for biking enthusiasts to be able to bike to brunch, have a safe place to leave their bike and enjoy a leisurely brunch at Max’s Social House,” said Dennis Max, co-owner of Max’s Social House.
Bicycle valet parking will be available for the Sunday brunch at no additional cost.
Human Powered Delray will continue operating its valet service at the GreenMarket through May 9, when the market closes for the summer.
That’s good news for GreenMarket regular bikers like Rinah Karson.
“I’m delighted that there’s valet parking for bicycles,” she said. “This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever had my beautiful blue bicycle valet parked by like-minded people.”