Sustainable: Valet bike parking at Common Ground

Posted Sept. 14, 2009, at 7:10 p.m.

UNITY, Maine — Those attending the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity Sept. 25-27 can save gas and money by bicycling to the fair.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine again has partnered with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association to organize and promote valet bicycle parking at the fair. Now in its 11th year, the service cuts down on traffic and pollution. That fits with the fair’s focus on promoting sustainable living.

Fairgoers who arrive on bicycles will receive a welcome with chiming bells and applause from valet parking volunteers. Cyclists have a convenient and safe place to store their bikes, and they get a $2 discount on admission.

A record number of cyclists, 507, biked a total of 7,275 miles to the fair in 2008.

“Bicycling to the Common Ground fair is a clean, ‘green’ and free way to travel,” said Allison Vogt, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s executive director. “On a beautiful fall day, it provides the perfect way to work up an appetite for some delicious fair food.”

Those who live too far away to bike the whole way can park at a midway point and then hop onto their bicycles. A map on the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s Web site, www.BikeMaine.org, shows bicycle-friendly routes.

During the fair, the coalition offers an opportunity to try riding unusual bikes. There are miniworkshops on topics such as flat tire repair and bike commuting. Coalition volunteers also organize a colorful, human-powered vehicle parade each day of the fair.

All cyclists are directed to the fair’s North or “Rose” Gate. Bikes are not allowed in the South Gate or on the fairgrounds. There are enough racks and volunteers to park up to 500 bicycles at one time.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been working since 1992 to make Maine a better place to bicycle. The coalition advocates in the Maine Legislature and in Washington, D.C., for Maine cyclists, teaches bicycle safety to thousands of Maine schoolchildren each year, partners with state agencies on a Share the Road media campaign and serves as a resource on local bicycling issues.

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