The uproar over New York’s new bike share system is mostly due to very human shortcomings (one crotchety human in particular, actually). But it can also be blamed on the shortcomings of city infrastructure, which hasn't quite caught up to the demand for new, more efficient ways of storing velocipedes.
But if we look to other biking cities, we see that this problem has already been solved—by robotic parking systems that store bikes underground or vertically, in towers. Robotic parking for cars is already catching on in some American cities (it’s been around in China and Europe for years). But bikes are a relatively new addition to the market.
There are plenty of hurdles with installing such a system in New York. But it's only a matter of time, since robotic systems boast a foolproof commercial logic: automated parking takes up less valuable space in the urban fabric—which means they leave more space for real estate developers. In the meantime, have a look at five cities that are implementing their own innovative systems.
E-Bike Mobility is a German company that builds robotic bike storage systems all over Europe—like this solar-powered one, in Meckenbeuren, which can store 112 bikes outside of the small town's train station.
The Czech version of the robotic tower stores 117 bikes at a time on a seven-tried hexagonal framework. It costs about 25 cents to park your bike here, using a modified robotic stacker that hangs bikes vertically along the internal struts.
The incredible real estate prices in Tokyo spurred Japanese engineers to figure out a solution to problem of surface parking long ago: an underground valet. Eco-Cycle is an opt-in system where members pay a fee to use the robotic storage systems, which stow bikes forty feet below ground level. A recent post from Danny Choo has a far more in-depth look at the system.
D.C., which has had a bike share for two years, isn't quite on the robotic bandwagon yet—but this lovely shell-shaped storage system is certainly a step in the more efficient direction.
This concept for a thin, vertical parking system was shortlisted in a recent competition to improve Seoul's bike infrastructure. The modular system would make it possible to fit hundreds of bikes into the thin gaps in the urban fabric. It's human-powered by a pedal generator, and the designers claim that maintenance would only cost $15 a year. Of course, it's just a concept, but according to the competition jurors, it's not far off from being an implementable design.
Lead image via Amusing Planet.