We recently learned about a great solution for cyclists in Tokyo: Underground bike parking garages.
This innovation answers a significant public need. According to the Earth Policy Institute, about 90 percent of people in Tokyo commute by rail, and 30 percent of those commuters also use a bicycle to reach their rail destination. That alone means a lot of bikes on the streets, and a high demand for storage that is safe and unobtrusive.
While we recognize that the need for parking space for bicycles in no way rivals the tremendous amount of land space that parked cars consume around the developed world, Tokyo's bike traffic does create somewhat of an inconvenience on city sidewalks. Here's an image of a mess of bike parking in Tokyo, courtesy of Danny Choo's blog:
But now commuters can safely, easily and quickly store their bikes using these automated kiosks that accept the bikes into an underground, rotating storage wheel where they remain safely until the user returns. Here's an image of what the device looks like on the inside (looking at it reminds me of watching the inner workings of jukeboxes when I was little ... or looking at a multi-disc CD changer):
Most of the storage facilities require a monthly membership, which costs around 2600 yen (about $29 U.S. dollars, or 21 Euro), with a discount available for students. The process of scanning a card and either depositing or retrieving a bicycle takes only seconds; definitely comparable to time spent securing most worthy bike locks, and much more convenient. You can see the whole process in the video below (watching this reminds me of waiting for my ball to come back at the bowling alley):
Smart innovations like this one are a great example of city infrastructure that supports multiple modes of transit, helping commuters, city planners and transportation departments alike move beyond car-centric thinking. I hope that its success translates into versions for more cities around the world in the near future.
All images from dannychoo.com
Not sure what it says about this bike storage solution, but at 1:13, we are informed by CATS that ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US. Cool concept to reduce bike rack clutter though.
A Spanish company has developed an effective underground bike parking system they called The Biceberg. They come in different sizes and depths, depending on needs and space requirements. There are different sizes available - 23, 46, 69 or 92 bicycles. Depending on the size the watertight container that stores the bikes needs a hole between 1.5 m and 5.25 m in depth. The system can also be used to store away accessories such as a helmet or rucksack.
This is a rental system.
See more on the company's website here.
Automated bicycle parking biceberg www.biceberg.com
Automatic bycicle parking bigloo www.bigloo.info