The Genius Behind Lodi's New Bike Valets

Bikes being stored by Bike Lodi's bike valet services.

Bikes being stored by Bike Lodi's bike valet services.

Over the last couple of years you’ve probably started to notice the bike valets popping up at events around Lodi. Maybe you’ve even used this service! Farmers Market, Zinfest, Kiwani’s Pancake Breakfast, Beer Fest… the list goes on. I was chatting with a friend and mentioned something about the bike valets in Lodi and she responded, “Yeah, I love that. Those valets are genius.” I hadn’t thought about it in those words, but she’s right; the bike valet program is pretty genius. It’s super simple, people in Lodi love the service, and the organization running the valet service, Bike Lodi, can achieve their goals with this program. Plus it’s all free. Sounds pretty genius to me!

What makes the bike valets genius? A lot of things. First and foremost, it’s simple and easy to use. You just ride your bike right up to valet station (normally located near the entrance of events), hand it over to a Bike Lodi volunteer, then come grab it when you’re done. You don’t need to reserve a spot or have a special lock or download an app or even remember to bring cash because it’s free, remember? (Though tipping is always nice.)

Bill Mitchell and Kathryn Siddle at Farmers Market bike valet station.

Bill Mitchell and Kathryn Siddle at Farmers Market bike valet station.

Bike Lodi runs the bike valets. They’re a newer organization created in 2015 as subgroup from a Lodi Chamber project and they’ve really taken off. What’s really impressive is that Bike Lodi is completely volunteer led and still able to accomplish some pretty big projects, such as consistently offering the bike valet and developing a more bike friendly infrastructure in Lodi. The way the bike valet services works is that when an organization is hosting an event, they reach out to Bike Lodi and ask them to set up their valet services. Bike Lodi checks their availability and makes sure they’ll have enough volunteers for that day, and if they do then they’re booked. It’s that simple! And have I mentioned, the best part ?I have but let’s mention it again; it’s free! The organization doesn’t pay Bike Lodi to be there and you don’t have to pay to use the bike valet services. Any valet income Bike Lodi generates is through tips. The tips that people leave go directly to structural updates to make Lodi more bike friendly, including the new bike racks you’ve seen popping up throughout the downtown. How sweet is that?

Bike Lodi's Kathryn Siddle poses with one of the bicycle racks purchased and installed in downtown Lodi through Bike Lodi. Picture from  Bike Lodi's Facebook .

Bike Lodi's Kathryn Siddle poses with one of the bicycle racks purchased and installed in downtown Lodi through Bike Lodi. Picture from Bike Lodi's Facebook.

Bike valets are also genius because it makes getting to your destination part of the fun. Bike Lodi doesn’t need to spend money marketing to people to convince them to ride their bikes to these events. We know it’s fun!  All folks needed was for bike riding more accessible and bike valets do just that. Going to the farmers market goes from being a parking headache to a fun and relaxing evening bike ride. We like to ride our bikes, we know it’s more fun, we just needed someone like Bike Lodi to make it more accessible.

Bikes at Kiwanis 4th of July Pancake Breakfast. That morning Bike Lodi's valet services took care of hundreds of riders and their bikes. Pictures compliments of  Bike Lodi Facebook . 

Bikes at Kiwanis 4th of July Pancake Breakfast. That morning Bike Lodi's valet services took care of hundreds of riders and their bikes. Pictures compliments of Bike Lodi Facebook

From a marketing perspective, the free bike valets are also pretty genius. Bike Lodi’s goals can pretty much be summed up into two categories: 1) Encouraging more people to ride bikes in Lodi, and 2) Making Lodi a more bike friendly community. Bike valet isn’t the only thing they do (they do a lot), but I do think it’s one of the most effective things they do. By offering free bike valet, they demonstrate their value to the community; encouraging riding in a fun way that appeals to both avid riders and people whose bikes have grown cobwebs and making Lodi a more bike friendly community through the tips they collect. Plus since it’s free, they can reach more people.

A family lines up to store their bikes at Bike Lodi's bike valet station.

A family lines up to store their bikes at Bike Lodi's bike valet station.

So in a nutshell, what’s the genius behind behind Bike Lodi’s bike valet? It’s simple and effective. Lodians love the valets, and the valets allow Bike Lodi members to achieve their goals. It’s not complicated. It’s not expensive. They don’t have to do any marketing to convince people to ride their bikes, Lodians just see the service and make that decision on their own. More and more are people using this service, and at each event more and more volunteers show up to help make this bike valet service possible. It’s obviously something people in Lodi really enjoy. Bike valets allow Bike Lodi to accomplish their goals of popularizing cycling in Lodi and raising revenue to make Lodi a more bike friendly community. Bike valets allow people in Lodi another option to get to and from events. Like my friend said, it’s genius.