StreetFilms: Secure Bike Parking for Pennies per Hour

In the East Bay area of California you’ll find electronic, on-demand Bike Link locking facilities that provide secure bike parking for between 3 to 5 cents per hour! The lockers were created by eLock Technologies, which runs the Bike Link facilities. While not ubiquitous just yet, according to Robert Rayburn, Executive Director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has committed to installing an additional 200 lockers by the end of 2007.

It’s easy to see the amazing potential for this technology on the streets of New York City. Imagine bike lockers throughout the city, or at least at major transit hubs. As recent research shows, the number one reason New Yorkers do not ride a bike to work is the lack of safe storage for their bike.

Maybe a good start would be to do a pilot project in an area dense with cyclists and take the street grid and sprinkle a locker facility or two on every corner. Downtown Brooklyn? The East Village? Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg? Where would Streetsblog readers want to see these installed?

  • Charlie D.

    Great video! I would love to see bike parking like this in many places!

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I’d like to see them at all LIRR stations, particularly the Woodside one.

  • Donald B.

    This would have great potential here. On a day when the new DOT Cmshr. is starting, it is only logical she and her staff have the potential to see this as her first Streetsblog film.

  • Clarence —

    I’m sure your newest video is great (will view later). But pls be careful in summarizing the NYC DCP’s Bicycle Survey. The vast majority of respondents were people who already ride, no? Accordingly, a lack of safe bike storage is tied for the #1 reason for not bike-commuting given by New Yorkers *who already ride*. It’s almost a given that the #1 reason *among all New Yorkers* would be too much traffic and driver behavior, which effectively tied for #1 obstacle in the survey of bicycle-riders.

  • charles is SO right.

    i imagine that if the new DOT commissioner hesitates to let her 10-year-old ride his bike alone, it’s NOT going to be because she’s worried about where he’ll park. she’s worried about whether he’ll come home alive without being mowed down by an SUV… and hopefully she’s going to do something about it.

    see: separated bike lanes movie

  • Clarence

    Noted, and yes your statements are valid. Though, before I wrote that I went back to the T.A. site to double-check and found articles from 1999, 2000, 2004 and 2005 that state that the NYC DCP found the number one reason people weren’t commuting was lack of safe bike parking.

    Yes, this year it was tied with traffic and driver behavior. Although that supports the years-long trend of lack of safe storage on their – I will admit – somewhat skewed survey, it also may show that since it is not soley the number one issue any more, that the fears of riding traffic are growing even amongst the most hardcore, regular cyclists. That should be cause for great concern no matter the data source.

  • Clarence

    On Pricing….

    A number of people have written personally to ask just exactaly how the pricing scheme works for the Bike Link system. THis may not be 100% accurate – I’ll see if someone from there would like to chime in – but here is how I believe it works…

    The regular price is 3 to 5 cents per hour. (At the El Cerrito BART stop we were at it was 3 cents)

    Longer term storage (after a certain length of time, I think 10 hours or so) that increases to 10 cents per hour. This is to discourage using the lockers as regular overnight storage.

    If you pay for a certain amount of time and get back early, the card refunds you the difference. Also, I believe the first few hours are free of charge when you clock in. So if you want to use the lockers to go shopping or get a few quick items and get your bike after an hour or two, the usage is essentially free.

    As I understand it….

  • galvoguy

    bike lockers would be great , near transit hubs and parks. I would frequent the local restaurants if i didn’t have to worry about my bike being stolen, stripped or vandalized.
    I think it is fair to say that if the people have the confidence and fortitude to ride on city streets the next biggest factor that prevents bike use is theft.
    i wonder what the stats are for nypd arrests for bicycle theft in the last 5 years. I wonder if it is the most frequent and dollar value crime that goes unchallenged by the police. i know car clouts/break ins are a big problem along stretches of riverside drive, but i believe the police actually will increase surveillance of the area to stop this. NYPD has been placing bags with new cellphones on a subway bench and when someone picks up the unattended and abandoned bag and walks away they arrest them. This is a case where they are arresting and prosecuting for a crime that doesn’t even exist. White plains ny police have been setting up stings where they leave a unlocked bike on the street , when someone steals it they arrest them.

  • crzwdjk

    These seem great for intermodal commuters: ride your bike to the subway (or LIRR or Metro North), and then park it there and take the train the rest of the way. It’s easier than bringing your bike with you, and much more convenient to try than a regular assigned bike locker. Thus, I would suggest putting these in or near outer-borough subway stations, especially in Queens, as well as commuter rail stations. This is not likely to work very well on Manhattan streets, because there’s just not enough room to install enough of these to meet demand, and even if there were, they would rather ruin the streetscape. But I can imagine some large centralized bike parking facilities having something like this, maybe at Penn Station or Union Square or so.

  • Steve

    Secure bike parking is so important. When I first started biking regularly in NYC, I had three of my own bicycles stolen in about as many months. I kept buying cheaper bicycles and more expensive locks and chains until finally the chains were worth more than the bike. (But the bikes were so cheap I needed constant repairs!)

    Even after learning my lesson with my own bikes, I was foolish enough to think that lesser security was adequate for a kid’s bike, and had two of my son’s bikes stolen when he was about 6-7 yrs. old. He was heartbroken.

    Nowadays, when I show up to a group ride, people call me Jacob Marley because of all the chains.

  • Secure bike parking near the Atlantic Avenue transit hub in Brooklyn could be great.

  • galvoguy

    crzwdjk , bike lockers are just as important in the inner city as in the boroughs. the beauty of a bike is the ability to bring it on a train and then use it locally in the city. as far as marring the street scape, if 3 or more parking spots were rerouted for bike lockers the streets scape would be nicer.

  • srock

    Bike lockers along Bedford Ave in Williamsbug and Smith Street in Cobble Hill would be great.

  • gecko

    These lockers are “neat”, just wonder if human supervised and assisted bike parking would take up a lot less space and be a lot more convenient and appropriate at a similar cost. Investing in people would be a much better choice to effectively entrench human-powered transportation within communities.

  • Jim

    Looks to me like those lockers could be stacked two high — not every rider is strong enough to heft his/her bike into a “top locker,” but enough are.

    I’d love to see them in the loading dock/mech area of my office building — which doesn’t allow (!) bikes into or through the lobby.

  • Note: None of the lockers are stacked two high.

  • crzwdjk

    I have seen standard bike lockers stacked two-high, and it can work reasonably well when there isn’t enough room to install many bike lockers. I still think that these won’t work well on dense inner-city streets. Look at that park railing and count the bikes. Now imagine a continuous line of bike lockers along the whole park fence, because that’s how many would be needed to store all the bikes. I think in the central city itself, it would be more efficient to either have attended bike parking (including in subway stations), or these same individual lockers in the basements of office buildings and such, in cases where there isn’t enough demand to warrant paying an attendant.

    And perhaps it would also make sense to address the bike theft problem directly. Perhaps a mandatory registration for all commercial bikes is in order, with mandatory proof of purchase from a bike shop or reputable used-bike dealer. Probably the vast majority of “cheap” bikes that are stolen are then re-sold as delivery bikes.

  • Steve

    Must admit that there is not a great deal of empty space at “transit hubs” and other spots where such lockers would be desirable in NYC. Plus it would be argued that the lockers present a security threat b/c they can be used to hide bombs. I agree that a more direct solution would be better, and crzwdjk’s is one of the few that would not require 100% reliance on NYPD. something to remeber if the opportunity to fine-tune the bike delivery legislation arises.

  • Mitch

    In Chicago, some rapid transit stations have bike racks inside the station, behind the turnstiles.

    These racks aren’t perfect — you probably wouldn’t park your $3000 bike there, and you’d need to remove or secure strippable accessories — but they’re protected from the weather, and more secure than the street. They’re also cheaper than lockers, they take up less space, and they’re not suitable for hiding bombs.

    Perhaps the best solution would combine e-lockers, attended parking, and semi-secure bike racks, in different locations.

  • Fascinated

    Looks great. . . but I can’t imagine what looks to be wire mesh being much of a deterrent to a professional bike thief. Don’t you think a heavy duty bolt cutter would make quick work of the hinges on these things?
    Sorry to be pessimistic; I’d love these to work.

  • Clarence

    Fascinated,

    I didn’t get to see it, but Gus in the video told me about a story where as a display to the indestructability of these cages, the owner took a sledgehammer to one and couldn’t break in. The mesh inside appears to be a lot more sturdy that in may appear. And remember that the users are registered with Bike Link so that if you broke into an adjoining space they would probably be able to track down the offender.

    I will say, I had lots of doubts about how secure it actually was myself, but after the demo and analyzing it, I am quite satisfied these lockers work brillantly.

  • rc

    Great video! Some variants of this might work for NY, taking into account the lack of pavement real estate, and the often looked-over need to help projects be revenue-earning/ self-sustaining

    1. Two high and four wide would take about as much space a typical bus shelter. One or two sides could be rented to advertising

    2. Two high and just one wide could easily fit in next to the typical newspaper kiosks. Again, the street-facing side could have advertising

    3. Mobile versions of these could occupy the footprint of a car/ van parked at a meter, or the area of a lunch cart.

    4. And what’s to stop a floating version (if you work close to either river, picture a bike park on a wharf, and a quick walk to work).

  • Jmc

    Maybe someone could ask DOT to see if bike lockers could be added to Cemusa’s street furniture franchise in the future. Who cares if there’s an ad for clairol or dr. zizmore if you can have a secure place to put your bike.

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