You don't have to drive to SunFest

You don't have to drive to SunFest

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SunFest starts on Wednesday, so get ready for the huge crowds along with some great music –-- and better weather.

While the annual music festival can be lots of fun it can also mean lots of traffic.

"You can drive but know that parking is at a premium, space is very limited," said Raphael Clemente, director of the Downtown Development Authority.

But there are alternatives to bringing your car. For the 12th year, the Downtown Development Authority is hosting a free bike valet service.

"It's like a coat check for your bike," said Clemente. "Our goal with this is to help people understand by trying it, that they can get to downtown and other places without their vehicle."

Clemente said they are hoping more people will use it this year than ever before. Last year, they check over 600 bikes for festival-goers.

"It's been very successful with SunFest. And it just makes sense that we would try it with other events like the Green Market which is weekly. The boat show, to reach a bigger audience. And just expose more people to the fact that biking is an option that they can choose to get around and into West Palm Beach."

Just ride your bike down to North Clematis and Lantana Avenue and drop it off, free of charge.

"It's secure and safe. If you leave your bike overnight, we lock it up and take care of it," said Clemente.

Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization and KIND food bars have sponsored the bike valet. They will be giving away free backpacks, safety lights for bikes and KIND bars to those who use the valet.

But if you prefer to travel by boat, Captain Chris Shaffner with TowBoatUS is gearing up for a big weekend.

"By Sunday and the fireworks, we're delivering about 300 people per day," he said. "Every year it gets more and more popular. We get more and more boats out here."

His business will be the only one this year to offer rides from your boat into SunFest.

"It's because of the traffic and the parking situation with SunFest and just the number of people it's really tough," said Shaffner.

Boaters are allowed to anchor anywhere out in the Intracoastal.

"They can anchor up close in here but they have to be about 100 feet from the docks," said Shaffner. "They just give us a call on the VHF [radio], or they flag us down as we're coming by. We stop, pick them up on the boat. Bring them right back here and drop them off right at the gate. When they're done, we take them back to their boat and they're all set."

TowboatUS will give you a ride from offering rides from your boat for $5 round trip. For TowBoatUS members, it's complimentary.

"It's a lot cheaper than parking," he said. "There's just not enough docks based for everybody to come and raft up. And it's dangerous for these boats to try to tie off to each other."

With alcohol bound to be in the mix, Shaffner says his crew will be looking out for everyone.

"BUI's are just as risky as DUI's or more so. We really want make sure that no one overindulges and then goes back in their boat up the Intracoastal," said Shaffner.

One other option people can take is Uber. The ride-share service has established Fern Street and Olive Avenue as the official drop off and pick up location. Uber is also offering a special SunFest promotion -- get your first ride for free, up to $20, using the code SUNFESTWPB.

If you have to drive, SunFest is also offering advanced parking plans. It's $12 for a day and $48 for five days. just make sure you buy it the day before you plan to go.

Either way, the city hopes SunFest patrons will consider leaving the car at home, even just for a day.

"You can use Tri-Rail, you can ride Palm Tran. You can bike, you can walk. you can Uber. There's many ways to get here. So we're encouraging people to try those modes," said Clemente.

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