Automated Underground Bike Parking in Tokyo

From Japan Probe via Gizmodo comes this video of an automated underground bike garage at a Tokyo commuter train station. For a single-use fee of 100 yen (about $1) or 1,800 yen for a monthly pass, customers roll their bikes onto a platform and use a control panel to have them whisked away to a rack within the 9,400 spot facility. The video shows that it takes the system 23 seconds to retrieve the reporter’s bike. (As our tipster noted, if you liked "Brazil," you’ll love this clip.)

Could this also be a solution for other cycling cities where space is at a premium?

Video: nihonnogenki/YouTube

  • Josh

    Japan is AWESOME.

  • jack

    It seems they have several “wells” of bikes to lower it into. But what happens if you forget which well you put yours in? I can also imagine some lines forming, since there’s only one way to get at each bike well.

    However, this is still really amazing technology, one that would be great over here (though sadly very unlikely).

  • I love it! When can we get one in New York?

  • Josh

    By the way, those “wells” look like something out of The Matrix.

  • Lumi


    Jack: You don’t have to remember anything (ok, maybe your card), the system remembers for you. [Now, if only “the system” could tell me where I put my damn keys!]

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Very cool and I’m doing a report on cycling in Japan at the moment too!

    I wonder if the system would work with other forms of bicycles however. The traditional city bike often called a “mama chari” in Japan, is very popular while other forms of bicycles used for transportation are not.

    Still, really cool.

  • That is just amazing.

  • jack

    Lumi: I understand that, and like that part a lot. What I noticed, though, is in the diagram shown in the video, there are several tubes of bikes; remembering which of the tubes your bike is in could be an issue (especially at rush hour). But, thinking about it, this is something of a nitpick.

    This kind of design definitely makes sense in Japan, though, where every parcel of space is absolutely necessary. New York (at least, Manhattan) would definitely benefit.

  • Dave

    Like that will ever make it in NY.

    In Tokyo you have to provide proof of an off-street parking space before you are allowed to buy a car. Makes a lot of sense but will never happen here.

    In Tokyo there are fare zones based on distance traveled. Makes a lot of sense but our beloved city council nixed that to pander to the poor.

    So stop with the adoration and face the facts: this will NEVER happen here because the Federal transit chief doesn’t care about bikes, the city promotes cars over bikes, and the city is BROKE.

  • galvo

    something like this or another design like a dry cleaners hanger system would be a good use for all those unused subway bathrooms space

  • Or here’s an idea: we could actually reopen the bathrooms, and hire enough attendants to keep them safe and clean.

    Whatever happened to the City’s plan to install automatic toilets all over, anyway?

  • momos

    You’ve got to love the Japanese. So precise, so well designed, so right on!

    Why is everyone insisting “it would never work here?” I swear to god if I hear another New Yorker use that cop out to shoot down another good idea I’m gonna scream.

    Did anyone catch the NYT video “Black Cars go Green,” in which a reporter and a livery guy look for a green replacement to the Lincoln Town Car? They begin by utterly dismissing the Toyota Camry Hybrid: “not begin enough.” Never mind that its official specs show it to have more rear leg room than the standard wheel base Town Car, and nearly as much as the stretch. Never mind that the Camry is used as an executive car in many markets around the world, and is a full size up from the Corolla, which is used as a Taxi from Dubai to Bangkok. Never mind that the Hybrid model would run rings around the Town Car in fuel savings. The livery dude and his NYT sidekick are so conservative and narrow minded.

    What’s so special about New Yorkers? Why can’t we use a product or approach that’s widely used in the rest of the world in often far harsher conditions? In the recent NYT blog piece on the MTA’s testing of a low-floor Mercedes Benz articulated bus with six doors, a jingoistic MTA tool says he has doubts that the bus can withstand the unique rigor of operating in NYC. That same bus design is used in the Third World. If it works in Cairo, it damn well will work fine in New York.

    Come on New York, get over yourself. Congestion pricing, bike sharing, low-floor buses, automated bike garages, RISING BOLLARDS — they all work in huge metropolises in other countries and there simply is NO REASON they can’t be adapted for use here.

    Here’s the NYT video on black cars:

  • momos

    PS. Not quite done with the rant. The worst expression of American urban exceptionalism is the refusal to introduce traffic calming and narrowed streets on the grounds that fire trucks can’t get through.

    Oh? Fire departments in Amsterdam, Florence, Prague and Tokyo — to name just a few — aren’t able to deal with narrow streets?


    You don’t build a city to fit your fire trucks. You buy thoughtfully designed trucks that will fit your city.

  • gecko

    Wild! Though it does look like overkill.

    Can’t help but wonder that future vehicles might be so light and compactable that they can be easily stored at the users desk or in an apartment, etc., that is , if they are not part of a public system.

  • gecko

    . . . just like the contemporaty cell phone / computer experience.

  • ben

    this is very cool.

    sadly, some nyc jackasses would figure out a way to ruin this thing immediately.

    why is it that americans just can’t have nice, civilized, community stuff without someone messing it up?

  • Quinn

    I had an idea for a box connected to a system like that. On the box would be advertising which could generate money for the city or the contractor who did this work. It could also spit out bicycles as part of a rental service. We could store more rental bikes in the city. We could have more parking spaces for bikes in boxes out in the Outer Boroughs. tourists can use this system for looking around New York. Outer borough-ers could use their own bike & store it in a system in Woodside or Fordham MTA Railway stations. Get out at Grand Central or Penn & hop on a rental to get to work. This can motivate more people to cycle & leave their cars at home. Also if we would accept Metrocards on LIRR & MetroNorth this would ease the load off of the subway

  • momos

    Re: #16 Ben

    You think they don’t have vandals in Tokyo, too?

    Of course it’s frustrating that some people don’t respect public resources and public space. But the fact that there might be some people who might try to wreck something isn’t a good reason not to try something new.

  • Amazing! But show me the invoice.

  • Malena

    Amazing! Good to see that! Gatwick Parking


London’s Bike-share How-To

For your viewing pleasure this weekend, here’s the animation produced by Transport for London explaining how to use Barclays Cycle Hire — the 570-station bike-share system that launched about two years ago. There’s a lot to cover in a little more than four minutes: when bike-share is useful, how to get a membership, what not […]

NYC DOT Now Using Automated Counters to Measure Bike Trips

There’s some neat news in NYC DOT’s 2014 bike count announcement that I missed in my haste to post about it yesterday. Last April, the agency began to use loop induction counters to measure bike trips on the East River bridges. The automated counters enable DOT to collect data more often, so we can have greater confidence in […]

StreetFilm: How to Use a Bike Box

The New York Times doesn’t seem to have noticed, but DOT has been quietly rolling out dozens of bike boxes all over the city. As many cyclists don’t seem to know exactly what bike boxes are or how to use them yet, StreetFilms thought the time was right for this instructional video. Related: How About […]

Video: Copenhagen’s All-Weather Bike Infrastructure

In case you missed it in Friday’s headlines, here’s a video from Copenhagenize with some inspiration for this cold spell we’ve been having. The video shows Copenhageners — lots of ’em — making their way through the January snow.  It’s an instant retort to the old claim that "no one uses bike lanes in the […]

Bike-Share Open Data Standard Clears the Way for Better Trip Planning Apps

It’s about to get easier to plan trips that include bike-share. Yesterday, the North American Bikeshare Association, a trade group representing transportation agencies and private firms involved in operating bike-share systems, announced that it is adopting an open data standard. NABSA includes Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, Divvy, Bay Area Bike Share, and several […]