Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 17/6/2011 (3866 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Revenge is a dish best served cold. And dripping with paint.
Not long ago, regulars at a bar in Livingston, Mont., were being plagued by a bicycle thief who would nab their wheels while they were inside, tossing back a few.
One night, some of the victims hid near the watering hole's bike rack, and waited for the perpetrator to show up. Within an hour, a dark figure appeared and began sawing the lock off one of their bikes. Before the crook could make his getaway, however, he was greeted by a barrage of paintball pellets. (Charles Bronson fans everywhere will be pleased to learn that the act of vigilantism was filmed by one of the participants, and is now available for all to enjoy, on YouTube.)
"That was a good video; I watched it last week," says David Wieser, the founder of Bicycle Valet Winnipeg -- a year-old organization that parks and protects Winnipeggers' bicycles at events all over town.
The million-dollar question, then: will Wieser now follow suit, and arm his legion of valets with paintball guns?
"Uh, no," Wieser says, with a laugh. "There are no plans to do that at this time."
Bicycle Valet Winnipeg is exactly what it sounds like: Cyclists present their bikes to whoever is on duty at happenings like rock concerts and street festivals. Valets park the bikes in a cordoned-off area, then hand out claim stubs. At the end of the event, the bike owners return their ducats, and the valets fetch their rides. Best of all: it's free.
"People always ask, 'How much?' but thanks to our sponsors and event organizers, we don't have to charge a penny," Wieser says, adding that Bicycle Valet Winnipeg is a subsidiary of Bike to the Future, a non-profit organization whose mandate is to make cycling in the Peg a safe and convenient transportation alternative, year-round.
Wieser came up with the idea for Bicycle Valet Winnipeg in 2007, after reading about a similar enterprise in San Francisco. But before he made his dream a reality, Wieser, a 17-year member of the Canadian Armed Forces, was redeployed to Edmonton for training, and then to Afghanistan for a six-month tour of duty.
"It was while I was in Kandahar that I really began jotting down notes, bouncing ideas off other people, and firing off emails," Wieser says. By the time he returned to Winnipeg in April 2010, the married father of one was "pretty much ready to go."
Well, not exactly. At Bicycle Valet Winnipeg's inaugural event -- Bike to Work Day 2010 at The Forks -- Wieser had plenty of takers, but nowhere to put their bikes. "It fell on the same day that the Queen was in town," Wieser explains. "The city was supposed to deliver a bunch of bike racks, but they were so busy with the royal visit that they forgot about us."
To make sure that never happened again, Wieser began building his own bike racks. (Last week, he put the finishing touches on No. 51.) He's also busy building on Year One, when his valets -- all of them volunteers -- worked at close to 20 events, including the last six Blue Bomber games. Wieser just got word that his services will be needed at all of the Big Blue's home games this year, and Bicycle Valet Winnipeg will also be present at the Red River Exhibition, Canada Day at The Forks, and the M.E.C. Bike Fest in July.
Ready, Pet, Go!
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To date, Bicycle Valet Winnipeg has tended to everything from skateboards to unicycles to bike trailers. "Last year, we even had a 10-foot-long, four-wheel car cycle -- it was awkward to park but we did it," Wieser says. On the other hand, mopeds need not apply. "No, we won't park anything with an engine. We're trying to encourage people to choose active transportation to get to their event."
In addition to establishing relationships with organizers of the Manitoba Marathon, and/or the management of this city's new NHL franchise, Wieser has one other goal in mind.
"We parked (Hot 103 DJ) Ace Burpee's bike at the Ciclovia festival last year," Wieser says. "He draws such a crowd, I wish we could have a bike valet following right behind him wherever he goes."
For more information, and to see where Bicycle Valet Winnipeg will be setting up next, visit www.bicyclevaletwinnipeg.ca.
Dave Sanderson was born in Regina but please, don’t hold that against him.
IN August, David Wieser will bid adieu to Winnipeg, and to his "baby," Bicycle Valet Winnipeg. Wieser, an electrical distribution technician at 17 Wing, is being transferred to a base in Ontario. Last month, Wieser hired Rosanne Ritchot to take his place as Bicycle Valet Winnipeg's chief co-ordinator. We recently caught up with Ritchot, and asked her a few questions about the future of Bicycle Valet Winnipeg, and her own passion for getting around town on two wheels.
Free Press: Was there a seminal moment in your life when you discovered you were a serious cyclist and not just somebody out for a little fresh air?
Rosanne Ritchot: I discovered my love for cycling during a bike trip from Winnipeg to Alaska and back, in 2004. Understandably, it would have been wiser to discover this love before leaving on a 5,000-plus-kilometre trip, but fortunately, it worked out.
FP: Just a hunch, but I'm guessing you didn't show up for your interview with a David Wieser behind the wheel of a Hummer.
RR: I wouldn't have dreamed of showing up for this job interview in any type of car! I have to admit, though, that I didn't ride my bike. I walked.
FP: I know you haven't officially started yet, but do you have any ideas re: your new title?
RR: I don't have any specific plans yet. But I do dream of Bicycle Valet Winnipeg getting bigger, if only because I dream of Winnipeg being a city more open and accessible to cyclists.
FP: One of David Wieser's chief tenets is that Bicycle Valet Winnipeg will never charge individual cyclists to use its services. Do you subscribe to that belief?
RR: Absolutely. In my opinion, BVW's purpose is to make taking your bike instead of your car as easy, as accessible, and as affordable as possible. Using your bike is a glorious thing, and BVW should help to make that true for more and more Winnipeggers.