There are better ways to park a bike than the above image, but in some places it’s about your only choice.
When I first read this article on designboom.com I was thinking it was just a design, a prototype, something fanciful that could work, but would never happen. But this is Japan.
Giken, a Japanese construction company specialising in press-in piles, likes to put stuff in the ground. Land is expensive in Japan, so instead of taking up a lot of space with bike parking, they used their expertise and stuck them underground (they do the same with cars). It is secure, clean, fast, and keeps the space above ground free. “Culture Aboveground, Funtion Underground”, is the Eco Cycle’s catch phrase.
It doesn’t look like a small or simple or cheap process, so I’m not expecting these to pop up in a town near you, but it’s great to see that cycling is being taken more and more seriously. Unlike more basic road infrastructure, this kind of project would need a strong cycling population to make it viable (much like any larger project). I’m sure a few more people would choose to ride into town rather than drive if this were in place, but it’s a bit of a grand plan if the numbers aren’t already there.
This video will give you a quick tour.
If you want to see not only how it works also how it’s put in place, and also it’s vehicle equivalent, this is from its creator. It’s long, and it’s also in Japanese, but you’ll get the idea.
Contratst this to the Netherlands, and there are a few main differences. One, it’s free in the Netherlands, and two, its capacity is somewhat larger (5000 bikes!). And this is just one of the stations. The Giken system, however, is much quicker.
Japan does also has some larger facilities, and there are usually multiple Eco Cycle columns grouped together anyway. Japan has various different kinds of bike parking in use, and many are listed here with a short description and capacity listed. The Kasai Station Bicycle Parking Lot boasts a total of nearly 10,000 spots.
Sure beats locking it to a parking sign.
Header image: anabananasplit/Flickr