By Ian Berry
Riverbend fans are being encouraged to forgo the long search for a parking space in favor of a pleasant bike ride along the Tennessee Riverwalk.
Officials are setting up a “valet service” near the Walnut Street bridge for bicyclists to park their bikes from 5-11 p.m. About four miles away, at the Amnicola Marsh parking lot at the Riverwalk, festival attendees will be able to park their cars for free and bike in.
“This is a short bike ride,” Hamilton County spokeswoman Gina Hatler said. “It’s a beautiful bike ride.”
The Riverwalk is well lighted at night and monitored by security, officials said. Bikes that are left at the valet tent after 11 p.m. will be locked up but can be picked up the following day starting at 5 p.m., said Philip Pugliese, bicycling coordinator with Outdoor Chattanooga.
“We won’t tow your bike,” Mr. Pugliese said.
This year’s festival marks the end of the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority’s free shuttle service at the event. CARTA director Tom Dugan said amid budget cuts last year the department decided to end its Riverbend sponsorship rather than cutting service for those who need the bus for work.
Instead, shuttle service provided by John Champagne and Stafford Bus Services will be available for $1 per ride. Mr. Dugan said if a private company can make the service work, that’s preferable to using taxpayer dollars.
“I’m hopeful it succeeds,” he said.
Mr. Dugan said the free electric shuttle service will continue to take fans from downtown to the Choo-Choo, but the service ends at 7:40 p.m. instead of 9:40 p.m., as it has in recent years.
E-mail Ian Berry at email@example.com