Downtown Los Altos 'Cycle Saturday' to feature parking stations, bike valets

Asher Kohn/Town Crier
Voyageur du Temps in downtown Los Altos will serve as a bike parking station during “Cycle Saturday.” The cafe will offer a speedy service line and discounts for cyclists.

Los Altos’ inaugural “Cycle Saturday” is scheduled Saturday, with bike parking stations placed at four downtown coffee shop locations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“‘Cycle Saturday’ was created to encourage people to use alternate modes of transportation while visiting Downtown Los Altos,” read the city of Los Altos flier distributed at Red Berry Coffee Bar, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Manresa Bread and Voyageur du Temps.

The four businesses agreed to sacrifice two parking spots to install a temporary bicycle rack attended by volunteer bike valets. The valets will park and guard bicycles, giving cyclists a claim check so that they can enjoy coffee or walk around downtown.

Los Altos conducted a pilot bike valet program early this summer. The idea belonged to Jennifer Quinn, the city’s economic development manager, who wanted to capture some of the bicycle traffic zipping down Foothill Expressway and let avid cyclists rest assured that their bikes are safe and sound.

Michelle Rincon, general manager of Voyageur du Temps, intends to use the claim checks as a coupon, as she did during the pilot program.

“Riders got 10 percent off, plus madeleines, with a claim ticket,” she said.

Voyageur du Temps will also offer a speedy line for cyclists, as well as post a sign on Foothill Expressway.

“Our weekends are so busy,” Rincon said. “We want to serve the cyclists without making other patrons mad.”

Rincon noted that the early-summer pilot program wasn’t well marketed and hopes that fliers will change things and attract larger crowds. Her employees agree.

“Big events like First Friday pick up foot traffic immensely,” said Niki Beccari, a barista at Voyageurs du Temps.

Other coffee shops farther from Foothill are wondering how many cyclists will come their way.

“We are giving up two parking spots for (“Cycle Saturday”), which is really tough right now,” said Jeff Hampton, owner of Red Berry Coffee Bar, referring to how road repair behind Red Berry has made parking tricky for his customers.

But Hampton is optimistic about the lasting effects of a cycling event.

“There seemed to be some response to it,” he said of the pilot program. “I’m looking forward to finding a way to bring the bicycling community here.”

Quinn hopes to bring not just Los Altos bicyclists, but eventually make downtown a destination for groups from Mountain View, Palo Alto or even Santa Clara. And cyclists so far seem excited.

“Biking is a great way to get to town,” said Gary Hedden of GreenTown Los Altos. “Let’s start a new downtown tradition – valet bike parking every second Saturday.”

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