Streetfilms: Full-Service Bike Parking in Brazil

On a recent trip to Brazil, Streetfilms’ Elizabeth Press visited ASCOBIKE, a bicycle parking garage outside São Paulo. ASCOBIKE serves 1,700 riders daily, many of whom hop a train to complete their commute from Mauá, "a city with zero bike infrastructure." Membership perks include safety and maintenance tips, bike repair service and even legal advice, all financed by a nominal $5-per-month fee.

Says Elizabeth: "ASCOBIKE isn’t your average bicycle parking station."

  • anonymous

    I want.

    Anybody have a guess how much they’d have to charge per member in NYC, given the rent?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Anybody have a guess how much they’d have to charge per member in NYC, given the rent?”

    The analogous situation is at the ends of the subway lines in the outer-boroughs, where the rent is much lower.

    Scale up that $5 per month fee to the difference between the average wages of a worker in Brazil, a middle income country, and New York, and you see the fee is far from nominal. It could be triple, or more. One reason perhaps why they now have something we do not, but could have.

  • A 50-trip train ticket is about R$112.50 a month, roughly $55. So these ten reais add less than ten percent to the monthly commuting cost. The equivalent for New Yorkers would be 10% of a Metrocard, which will soon be $8.90. But since Paulista wages are less than half of New York wages, I’d imagine the equivalent would be closer to $40-50 a month.

    The Mauá station is 16 miles from downtown São Paulo, and the trip makes ten stops and takes about an hour. Roughly equivalent locations would be at the end of the E or F trains in Jamaica, or maybe the Brooklyn College terminus on the #2 train.

    If you had 1,700 people paying $8.90 each, it would only come to $15,000 a month. Can we get a square footage for that facility?

  • Its important to note that according to the video, they do NOT pay rent (1:32). The train operator provides no service, but does give them space

    What this means is the payment gives the people services besides just a space, which he said include water, coffee and legal advice.

  • The MTA already has more than enough unused space that begs for this kind of usage. Two examples are the mezzanine levels of the Broadway Lafayette and the West fourth street subway stations through there are probably plenty more in other areas.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The MTA already has more than enough unused space that begs for this kind of usage. Two examples are the mezzanine levels of the Broadway Lafayette and the West fourth street subway stations through there are probably plenty more in other areas.”

    The places with the huge mezzanines are stations built as part of the IND in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The IND was generally over-built, often in anticipation of a “second system” to come.

    IND lines are the 8th Avenue, 6th Avenue, Smith/9th (F to Church), Fulton, Queens Boulevard, Concourse, and Crosstown (G).

  • 1,700 bikes daily? And zero bicycle infrastructure?! Impressive. I especially like the intermodality aspect, which is a win-win situation. I wish “the model could be multiplied” here in Mexico City. Unfortunately all too often here in Mexico mass transit companies see cyclists as a threat, rather than the potential client base that they are, as is made clear by this video.

  • Hi Angus,

    Square footage of ASCOBIKE:

    11,442.036 ft²

    We at ITDP made a manual on ASCOBIKE, for implementing similiar facilities. Right now it is only in Portuguese, English coming soon:

    Also, another webpage w/additional info on the project:

    I would like to thank Elizabeth of Streetfilms for doing such a great job on the video, and of course ASCOBIKE for existing. We hope to help multiply these facilities throughout Brazil and elsewhere.

    Best, Jonas

  • gecko

    We could probably benefit terrifically from public bicycle parking stations of this scale at our major transit hubs like Grand Central Station, Times Square, Penn Station, Union Square, City Hall, Downtown Brookly, Long Island City and should be something DoT and MTA should seriously consider.

  • Obrigadinho, Jonas! Warehouse-type commercial real estate in Jamaica rents for $15-20 per square foot, which would make the rent for a comparably sized space about $200,000 per month. To break even, such an operation would have to charge each user over $100 a month. I doubt there are 1700 bike commuters anywhere within a few miles of any point in the NY metro area who’d be willing to pay that, so it would need to be subsidized.

    One kind of subsidy would be Stacy’s suggestion of getting the MTA to lend out its little-used IND mezzanines. They’re already converting them to storage; there are a lot less of them than there used to be. But there might be some room at some of the outer stations like 179th Street on the F or Bedford Park Boulevard on the D.

    The challenge is figuring out where to put them in the stations so people don’t have to bring their bikes through the turnstiles, and so that bike riders don’t get in the way of people going on foot to the turnstiles.

  • bb

    They are ironing out the details. Looks like 99 bucks a year

    You get,

    Shower,secure storage, and bike stand and tools at one place in Tempe AZ.

    Yes I am going to be on board just to store my bike. I can take the free bus downtown.

    Autocentric city meets Tempe Kickya!

  • gecko

    There is a huge amount of space for bikes and a lot more for the ones that fold.

    It’s absurd to worry about the costs of bike parking like it would be absurd to think about charging people to walk around in the subway system.

  • gecko

    Taken to the logical extreme, designing for automated assembly and disassembly in systems using millions of bikes servicing many more millions of people would not take much for these rather simple machines; here and now for compactification and the ultimate in minimal storage.

    Mid century capabilities would likely include design, build, and implement on demand using technologies currently existent but very expensive.

  • I went to the MAS event covering transportation funding this last week and was asking the panelists afterwards about bicycle parking proposals in NYC. Couldn’t there be a citywide bicycle parking network that would charge users $70/month to park their bikes in a number of zones (or unlimited zoneage)?

    For auto parking there are the “stackable” lots all over manhattan that enable efficiencies in auto storage. Surely some variant of this technology could also be used for bicycles, right?

    Not a fan of using the MTA’s extra storage for this kind of thing. Not thought it through yet but there should be some tax incentives to boost development of bike parking lots. the subway entrances are too narrow for bicycles to enter/exit cleanly.

  • gecko

    . . . requiring, a modern highly skilled workforce.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Interesting that this is in Brazil.

    Brazil is a country that before reforming President Lula Da Silva was like a New York State nightmare. Based on “progressive” ideas there were all these rights to “free” everything, and high taxes to pay for them. But all the “free” everything was only available to middle class and affluent people “in the system,” with most of the poor out of it.

    One example was water. Water should be “free.” But with no revenues and most tax dollars going to public employee pensions for early retirement, there were no revenues to expand the system which “as luck would have it” only served the better off neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the poor ended buying black market water with low quality at high prices in the shanytowns.

    Sounds like parking placards or the NYC schools, doesn’t it?

    Da Silva came into offices promising that even the poorest should be able to eat three meals a day and have basic nutrition. It turns out that this cost a tiny fraction of total social spending, so much of it had been skimmed off.

    And now Brazil has a paid for bicycle facility, rather than a non-existing facility that is “free,” under a “left wing” “Socialist” administration.

    All you need for something like this is the equivalent of a multi-story parking garage. The capital cost would have to be tax-funded, but the operating cost could be paid for.

  • Don’t forget that BRT in Curitiba was initially imposed under the military dictatorship.

  • momos

    Cap’n’ Transit — Curitiba’s BRT system was a local initiative spearheaded principally by three-term city mayor Jaime Lerner.

    In addition to Gecko’s fantastic suggestion of placing bike hubs at the major subway stations, wouldn’t it also be great to have such facilities at major commuter rail stations in Jersey and Long Island? Bike infrastructure should be part of the suburban overhaul Thomas Suozzi and others keep talking about out in Nassau county.

  • @Larry #6, what was this “second system” envisioned by the planners and builders of the IND?

  • gecko

    The MTA accommodates walking within the system but does nothing to accommodate getting to and from the system by walking and more importantly by bike which is a major shortcoming. Attended bike parking would be a major first step such as that provided by DoT at One Centre Street.

  • gecko

    Adding cycling to the MTA system would provide a very high level of resilience at minimal cost if any since it would mitigate the high-cost of resources required for off-peak services.

  • Urbanis, I give you the proposed IND Second System

  • Larry Littlefield

    “@Larry #6, what was this “second system” envisioned by the planners and builders of the IND?”

    The thing to note about the second system for our purposes is that in several locations large spaces were added in existing stations in anticipation of connecting routes being added later. Unfortunately these tend not to be at the end of the line, but those stations are pretty big anyway.

  • brian

    is this some kind of joke? doesn’t asco mean disgusting in english?

  • Brian,

    it’s not a joke, the name is a bit unfortunate but the facility is amazing. Go to Sao Paulo and see.

    Best, Jonas


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