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Biking Our Way Toward a Carbon Neutral Fiesta

Tripling the parking lot space for free bicycle valet service will take thousands of cars, along with their emissions, out of the Fiesta picture.

After the overwhelming success of the inaugural bicycle valet operation at the Memorial Day Fiesta Hermosa, filling our free parking lot to capacity for all three days, those of us who worked to make it happen set our sights even higher for the upcoming Labor Day Fiesta. 

Even though we took care of 800 to 1,000 bicycles per day over Memorial Day weekend, and made visiting the Fiesta a no-hassle, groovy good time for all those riders, we're not satisfied.

We are now looking to park three times that many bikes each day over Labor Day weekend. Imagine us taking 7,000 to 9,000 cars off the roads over those three days and replacing them with bicycle riders. 

How's that for a greenhouse gas cutting vision? 

We're making it a reality. Thanks to the generosity and enthusiastic support of both the Chamber of Commerce and the City, we're tripling the size of our bicycle parking lot.

This makes it even easier for people to ride their bikes to the event, drop them off with us for secure parking at no cost, and then pick them up when they're ready to leave.

For the past month or so I've been part of a small group of folks meeting and working on the Labor Day Fiesta Hermosa bicycle valet plans. 

Steve Collins, co-owner of Hermosa Cyclery; Jim Hannon, my fellow board member with the South Bay Bicycle Coalition and president of the Beach Cities Cycling Club; Carla Merriman, executive director of the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce; and Mike Bell of Bell Event Services have all been integrally involved in trying to accommodate the most bikes possible. 

We've been given a primo spot right on the beach behind the Pier lifeguard tower, and the Chamber has paid for hundreds of 4-by-6-foot plywood panels to provide a temporary floor on the sand, for all the necessary fencing and bicycle racks needed to valet.

We're actively recruiting volunteers to share the fun with us in easy three-hour shifts working the valet station (just ask anyone who volunteered over Memorial Day weekend and watch a smile light up their face).

We're also getting the word out to South Bay bicyclists to pedal on over to the Fiesta and park their bike in our free lot.

Let's face it, if you're driving your car to Fiesta Hermosa and dealing with the traffic and parking hassles, you are adding a level of stress you'd be better off without for this fun beachside event.

Sure, the free park-and-ride operation with buses taking folks back and forth to the Northrop Grumman parking lot on Aviation Boulevard is a godsend - if you have to drive. 

But sometimes the line for the shuttle buses going back to the lot can be long, and you might have to wait 20 to 30 minutes before you get on board.

Leaving the car at home and walking or riding your bike to the Fiesta is great exercise, and you become part of the happy carnival of movement that extends the Fiesta throughout the neighborhoods many blocks beyond it's booths and official attractions.

And if you happen to be part of the Hermosa Beach Carbon Neutral City movement then you also know that you're pointing the way towards a better Green Idea City future when you're a zero emission traveler. 

Some day, in that cleaner, greener future, the entire Fiesta Hermosa will be carbon neutral, right along with the city's operations and the overall community. 

When we get there, we'll look back at this year, 2010, as the pioneering time when some of the biggest, most important steps were taken to make the Fiesta the South Bay's most bicycle friendly event.

Joe Galliani is the organizer of South Bay 350 Climate Action Group, serves on the board of directors for the South Bay Bicycle Coalition and writes a weekly column about local environmental issues for Hermosa Beach Patch.

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