Perk for Pedalers

In a town where cottages sell for half a million and lunch is generally served with a sprig of dandelion, one thing was missing: valet bicycle parking. Not anymore. Pedaling commuters will soon be able to hand their bikes over to an attendant at Palo Alto’s University Avenue Caltrain station.

The service -- the first of its kind in Northern California -- is part of the push to tame auto congestion in the booming Bay Area. The spruced-up 1,500-square-foot station will be outfitted with secure lockers for bikes, a changing area, a retail store with bicycle accessories and, of course, a coffee bar.

Palo Alto Bicycles Inc. will run the depot, subsidized by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the city of Palo Alto. And for the first 18 months, the service will be free. Says Stanford bicycle program director John Ciccarelli, “Little by little, it’s getting as convenient to use a bike as it is to use a car.”