Street furniture, lighting and signage

Solving the bike problem with the new generation of bike storage

Posted on July 4, 2014 by There have been 0 comments

Bike park

The momentum for ‘mode-shift’ to cycling in our cities continues at a pace, giving cyclists a new problem: where do they safely park their bicycles? Every day bikes are exposed to the rigours of the weather and threat of theft, making city dwellers particularly aware of the importance of secure parking. Some (but not many) commuters are blessed with the provision of vast underground parking areas below their offices, but what do the rest do? Bicycles are filling the streets, and the huge volume of street parking spaces are making some areas look increasingly unattractive and cluttered; visit the main railway station in Copenhagen and you will see how cycling can become a victim of its own success.

With the predicted growth of population in the city, and more people encouraged to use cycle space, coming up with new solutions has never been more important. Some cities across the globe are introducing innovative bike storage facilities to address the issue of both theft and space. These designs tackle the crowded streets and solve the parking issues in urban areas: think bicycle garages, cycling pods and bike hotels. In this post we take a look at how technology and design are improving traditional bike parking with modern, spacious and clean bike stations.

Japanese robotic bike parking

The Tokyo streets are hiding something you could never imagine: an underground bicycle storage system which looks more like something from a sci-fi movie than a parking space. Solutions like this help to ease pressure on heavily used public transit systems and the ECO-Cycle, developed by Giken Ltd, has become home to 204 bikes since 2010.

They are stored in the depths of an underground system where users’ bikes are placed on a platform, and then taken 40 feet underground by the ECO-Cycle elevator, which holds and rotates the bicycles downwards. The whole process of storing and retrieving the bikes takes only 13 seconds maximum, but it also comes at a price with a monthly membership costing 2,6000 Yen, the equivalent of £15.34 (although there is a fifty-percent discount available to students). Every subscriber receives an RFID card which allows them to access the parking.

Bike sheds in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands there are more bicycles than residents, and this is evident in mode-use, where up to 70% of all journeys are made by bike. The infrastructure is tailored to this extraordinary statistic, placed in close proximity to bus and train stations, shopping centres and schools, and offering a network of spacious, safe, convenient and clean parking facilities.

The video shows an example of one of the Dutch underground bike parks which has room for an extraordinary 5,020 bicycles. This free solution, with its clean and spacious appearance, pursues the aim of creating friendly yet useful facilities for modern cycling. This parking space is guarded and there is always someone ensuring its cleanliness and order. Several entrances welcome bike users inside to pump up tyres and make repairs, rent bikes, baby buggies or even walkers, for those capable of cycling but with difficulties walking.

These characteristics are an important part of Netherlands’ philosophy which focuses on encouraging citizens to use more cycling infrastructure. The inviting feel of bikie storage facilities is not just a coincidence, it is the way forward, making people simply want to use them as they feel so welcoming and offer everything a cyclist needs.

Raising the profile of biking with cycling pods and bike hotels

Barcelona is working to make bike parking a safer and more convenient experience with Bicibox, a small station which can provide storage for up to 7 bikes while taking up only the space of a single car.

The station is divided into parking boxes that are equipped with a swipe card system and an energy efficient console. The secure sliding door serves as a shelter from the weather and theft and users can access real-time information through the system’s website or the Bicibox mobile app to search for available spots near their location. This full network connectivity eliminates barriers to parking while promoting bike mobility as an alternative mode of transport around our cities.

Bike stations are becoming a form of oasis for those inclined to travel by pedal power, and the best example of this is the Bikestation in Washington, D.C. To encourage green travel, the building offers storage for up to 200 bikes, while also housing a changing room, bike support services and retail facility.

Union Station Bicycle Transit Centre in Washington, D.C. Image copyright © thisisbossi


All of this is located in a low-energy building which was developed to demonstrate possibilities of green structures, making good use of daylight and natural cooling. This efficient building, designed by KGB Design Studio, has window louvers that open at the top to let air escape and which also has a rainwater catchment system used to irrigate local plants. For £70 per month visitors can sign up for the Bikestation’s secure membership or alternatively pay per day to lock their bike safely.

Even though these bicycle stations might be a fairly recent phenomenon, the liveable cities movement must include more to promote bicycle use. Providing secure parking areas is one sure measure to increase pedal power and it’s time for some linked up thinking about parking solutions which can inspire and motivate other cities. The issue is not only about parking, it’s about contributing to the cycling experience of all bike commuters, with friendly facilities where bikers can change, take a shower and leave their cycling clothes behind, swapping the saddle for a briefcase and a suit.


Read more in Inspiration, Public Realm, Sustainability, Transport

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