Pedal Instead? Nay! Yay Valet!

But a taste of what's to come: many elements of our new bike valets were on display at Columbus' Bike to Work Day celebration.

But a taste of what's to come: many elements of our new bike valets were on display at Columbus' Bike to Work Day celebration.

At about this time last year we were announcing our grant from the Ohio EPA's Environmental Education Fund—awarded so that we could make our bicycle corrals more focused on educating "bike curious" event attendees about bicycling for transportation. The goals of this grant were threefold:

  1. To expand awareness of the Pedal Instead service, encouraging more people to ride to events
  2. To increase the extent to which Pedal Instead provides actionable information to event attendees regarding transportation bicycling
  3. To link event attendees to the on-road educational experiences available through Yay Bikes!, to increase their cycling knowledge and confidence

Now, after several months of working with a team of dedicated volunteers, and several more months working with a design team to implement their ideas, we are finally to the point of launching all our fancy new features. They include:


One of the problems Yay Bikes! had, marketing-wise, was an abundance of brands that lacked connection to the broader work of the organization. So "Pedal Instead" was often mistaken for a separate nonprofit, and people did not realize that we had a lot more to offer them than simply bike parking. Another problem also emerged since the 2007 launch of Pedal Instead—"bike corral" became a confusing phrase, because it's what the on-street bike parking that replaces a car parking space is called. To resolve both problems at once, Pedal Instead is now "Yay Valet!", and will be calling our service a "bicycle valet" going forward. (Note the updated Yay Bikes! logo, as well!)


The top part of our claim tag now will stay with the bicycle when it's returned to the cyclist, inviting them to visit our website for opportunities to engage and learn. 


Each cyclist who parks with us will now receive an "I rode today" sticker, a badge of honor and conversation starter akin to the popular voting stickers. We're hoping that cyclists will testify to their friends about riding to the event and parking with Yay Valet!, making it seem possible and preferable to the experience of driving and parking a car. Next time, maybe they can all ride to the event together!


Our volunteers now have uniforms! The bike expert volunteers among us will wear blue shirts saying "Bike curious? I can help." to invite people into conversations about bicycling. Other volunteers will wear red shirts that read "Wanna ride? for deets", to invite them to explore our website for opportunities to ride with us. 


Our fancy new cargo bike display pulls a trailer with interchangeable signs (e.g., "How far away did you park?", "Follow me to free bike parking", "Bike curious information here"), and will be a point of interest inviting people to approach the valet. It also features space for informational materials and can be ridden around an event to generate buzz and encourage people to "pedal instead" the next time.


People throughout an event will be able to see us from a distance with our new "lollipop" signs that tower above the valet with mode shift and bike love messages, free bike parking notices and more. 


Behind the scenes we'll be working to better engage the people who interact with us at the valet. Whether they park with us or simply approach with questions, we will craft follow-ups that respond to requests for information and invite them into further participation with Yay Bikes!. And we'll be keeping track of our impact with improved data collection and analysis as well (our fave!). 


Every element of our updated bike valet was designed to draw people into conversation and invite them to ride with us. Because we believe it is education within the context of a meaningful relationship—however brief—that helps people adopt a bicycling lifestyle, and that means a brochure alone won't cut it. Changing transportation behavior is ultimately an investment in people and invest in people we have, with help from the Ohio EPA.


See all this in action at an upcoming event—ride, volunteer, stop by to chat! And if you're interested in volunteering specifically to engage people in bike conversations, we are looking for you! Contact Meredith to learn more.