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Friday Fun: Two genius bike-parking ideas give cyclists a care-free commute
One of the best ways cities can promote cycling might have nothing to do with biking itself. These innovations make bike parking easier, improving transport access, giving bikers peace of mind, and saving urban space. Photo by Joe Newman/Flickr.

One of the best ways for cities to promote cycling might have nothing to do with biking itself. These innovations make bike parking easier, improving transport access, giving bikers peace of mind, and saving urban space. Photo by Joe Newman/Flickr.

For urban commuters, a safe, convenient place to store their bike can be the difference between choosing to cycle and needing to drive. Even in bicycle-friendly cities, cyclists can still face the challenge of having to lug their bike on public transport, or having to take their bike inside their office to prevent it from being stolen. In dense urban areas where space is at a premium, bike parking spaces can be hard to come by. How can cities make bike parking worry free?

Saving urban space through futuristic, underground bike parking

Tokyo might have the answer. With 13 million residents and even more in the surrounding metro area, the city found a creative way to conserve space and make urban cycling more convenient. Engineering firm Giken Seisakusho Co. installed a robotic underground bike parking system – called Eco-cycle – that can store 144 bikes while hardly using any city space. In a matter of seconds, Eco-cycle will drop your bike into an 11-meter deep underground bike storage. You simply mount your bike onto a platform and wait for the system to work like magic. Since the storage is underground, your bike will be free from scratches, rain, and other extreme weather. Eco-cycle is also designed to be anti-seismic, which is important for a city frequently hit by earthquakes. Check out how it works:

The Eco-cycle system only requires space for the bicycle entrance booth above ground, leaving room for parks and other public spaces. This design concept can be applied in cities worldwide, and could be particularly useful in mega-cities such as Beijing or São Paulo. Tokyo’s Eco-cycle is located next to Shinagawa Station – a major railway station in south-central Tokyo – solving the last-mile connectivity problem for many commuters and improving access to public transport.

Making multi-modal transport simple with bike valet

Portland, United States has its own solution to bicycle parking: a bike valet system that helps makes the city’s South Waterfront a multi-modal transport paradise. The system is the largest bike valet parking facility in the country, storing about 260 bikes each day. Parking is free, and users can pay for tune-ups and bike repair services during the day. The facility connects to Portland’s Aerial Tram and light rail system, and to bike paths. It will also soon connect to the largest car-free bridge in the United States. This bike valet service saves commuters’ time and provides peace of mind – as cyclists can drop off their bike to onsite staff and leave for work or school without worrying about parking or theft. See how the bike valet makes commuters’ lives easier:

Transport systems are responsible for 22% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, and transport emissions are increasing at a faster rate than any other sector. To curb this trend, cities should offer low-carbon transport options to provide alternatives to private car use. Making active transport options seamless with daily life is central to shifting away from car culture and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from urban transport. Cities can learn from Portland and Tokyo to make biking simple and convenient. By increasing capacity for biking, walking and other forms of low-carbon transport, cities can improve public health, deliver better environmental outcomes, and become more livable for people.

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