ABOVE: George Horner, a sophomore criminology major, and Ben Smith, a junior mechanical engineering major, at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, pose as bike valets outside memorial stadium. Bike UNL is a free valet service offered on Husker football gamedays.
James Wooldridge | DN
When a population large enough to be Nebraska’s third largest city is packed into one location on football Saturday, finding a parking spot is bound to be difficult.
To help with parking congestion and to raise funds for the Outdoor Adventures Center, Bike UNL and Nebraska Athletics have teamed up to offer a gameday bike valet program.
Lauren Larson, a senior psychology major and an Outdoor Adventures Center employee, said that the service began as a way to get more people biking to games.
“Parking on gamedays has always been an issue, and it’s always been expensive,” she said. “The price just keeps going up.”
Larson said that biking to games is a better option than driving because it not only helps ease traffic but reinforces a healthy lifestyle by getting people moving.
The service is free to everyone but free will donations are accepted. Cyclists can drop off their bikes at the east side of Cook Pavilion (841 N. 14 St.) and take a claim ticket from one of the volunteers. Participants have an hour after the final whistle to come back and claim their bikes.
Jordan Messerer, the faculty staff advisor for Bike UNL, said the student organization came up with the idea for the service in 2013.
“As we were researching ways for us to become more bike-friendly, we came upon this idea on offering a bike valet for home football games, which has evolved,” he said.
Now, the valet services are offered at the Sheldon Art Museum’s Jazz in June events as well as every home football game.
“The bike valet is basically a fundraiser to help us raise money for end-of-trip facilities, for cyclists on campus,” Messerer said.
The money raised by the free will donations go toward putting bike pumps and fix-it stations on campus, Messerer said. There are six bike pumps across campus and three fix-it stations located at the Outdoor Adventures Center, Nebraska Hall and at East Campus’ Rec and Wellness Center, all of which are accessible 24/7.
The bike pumps give students the ability to air up their tires, and the fix-it stations provide students with tools for minor bike repairs. This will be the third year of the bike valet program. Larson said that so far, the valet program has been extremely successful.
“It’s really great to see that people are commuting to the games,” she said. “It frees up parking space. Parking isn’t such a big issue on campus then, and it’s a lot more affordable since it’s a free will donation for the service.”
Christine Hoffman, an Outdoor Adventures Center graduate assistant and president of Bike UNL, said she hopes to see the program grow even more. So far, the program’s record for most bikes taken in at one game is about 80.
“I think there isn’t enough word out about what it is,” she said. “Really getting the word out there is one thing falling short. Getting a lot more student participation for it. That would help.”
Larson said that most of the bike valet volunteers are either part of Bike UNL, in biking clubs or part of the cycling community, but they’re always accepting people to come help them bike valet.
For more information, visit http://bike.unl.edu/bikevalet.