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Secure Bike Parking Just Cents Per Hour

At many locations in the Bay Area you'll find electronic, on-demand Bike Link locking facilities where you can park your bike securely for between 3 to 5 cents per hour! The lockers were created by eLock Technologies, which runs the Bike Link facilities.

While not ubiqutous just yet, one can see the amazing potential for this technology on the streets of New York City. Imagine a bike locker on every corner, not having to carry multiple heavy locks, and - most importantly - being able to ride even the most expensive model bike and know it'll be there when you return.

StreetFilms likes to dream, but seriously folks, this could be a moneymaker in NYC. I'd pay lots more than pennies per hour to lock my bike!


[intro music]

Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [00:08] Safe convenient bike parking in New York City is practically non existent. And although the city has installed thousands of on-street racks in the last five years, it still leaves a lot to be desired. And nowhere is that more evident than in places like this. We’re here in the East Village, near the 2nd Avenue stop on the F-Line, and anytime you come here you could see dozens of bicycles just locked up to anything that doesn’t move, fences, signposts and the few on-street bike parking racks that they do have. If you come over here, of course one of the big problems is is your bike even going to be here when you get back, or at least the way you left it? And you can see here this is missing handlebars, a wheel, seat post. Well it doesn’t have to be this way. New York City could do a lot better. Last week I was out in the San Francisco Bay area where I visited a BikeLink bike parking facility. And there you can actually park your bike for pennies per hour safely and know that your bike is going to be there when you get back. If this sounds like a dream, take a look, it’s not.


Gustavo Huber: [01:11] So we’re here at the El Cerrito Plaza bike station and we have 48 eLockers available for use that have been installed here since 2004. And they’re available for use for any BikeLink member. The City of El Cerrito purchased the eLockers to be put here in conjunction with bike racks, traditional lockers, the BART station and Ohlone Greenway, which runs right here in proximity to the Bay Trail and a number of other sort of bicycle arteries. It’s really like a key transportation node for people on bicycles and on foot, catching buses, catching taxis, taking BART. The eLockers are just electronic on demand lockers that are meant to replace and add to bike parking solutions at internodal stations, at any place that you might want to ride to. With the traditional assigned locker, you might have five lockers and that means you can serve at most five people. But in reality you maybe have one hardcore user and then the rest of them are vacant most of the time or in long term storage. And you have a waiting list of at least twice as many people. You may have five/ten people on a waiting list. With the eLockers, each locker that’s not currently in use is available for another user to use. You might have one hardcore person that’s using the same eLocker every day, and the rest of them might rotate people. So the same eLocker throughout a year might serve five to seven different people, or more, depending on how many are visiting the site. You can go to any BikeLink vendor, like the snack bar that’s over there who sells cards and you can pay cash, or you can go to bikelink.org where you get a small perk for signing up online. You register some basic information so that we can contact you and you’re mailed a card or handed a card on the spot, you sign a User Agreement and then it’s yours to use as a debit account, just like a parking card. When you go to a locker, you put a certain amount of time on and you prepay that amount. When you come back to check out your bike, any difference in time is either refunded onto your card or deducted off again. So if you stayed an extra hour, maybe an extra dime is taken from your card. If you stayed less than you thought, those extra four cents per hour are put back on. You take your prepaid BikeLink card, you show up at the locker and so long as it’s available like this one is, you insert your card, it says Welcome to BikeLink, and then you start to add time, just like adding quarters into a parking metre. Press the button and the door is unlocked. Put your bike inside. Close the door. Remove your card and it’ll remind you how long you have. And it’ll count down time until the rental is expired. You come back, you have your BikeLink card. Now your card won’t unlock any space except the one that it started renting. You show up. You put your card in. It’ll say Welcome Back, and then you press the button to end the rental. Press the button, the door’s now unlocked. And then you can remove your card, take your bike, close the door, and it’s ready for someone else to rent. And in the meantime it remains locked so people can’t put debris in it. In Oakland we have a slightly different system. A little bit newer. It has one controller for every two locker doors. And that way that we keep our prices a little bit lower for the cities that want to purchase eLockers. One of the central ideas of the eLockers is that they’re available for everyday commuters and they’re available for people that are just out and about touring.


[music]

Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [04:35] So here I am in Downtown Oakland. Rode my bike down here and decided to take Gus up on his offer to check out the BikeLink bike parking that exists on 14th Street and Broadway. Gus gave me a card, a BikeLink card, to use and came down here, found the lockers, found an open spot, put the card in, put my bike in there about 15 seconds later, walked away. And I got to say it’s the first time I’ve ever been anywhere where I’m not worrying about my bicycle. You know I know it’s locked up in a very secure place right now, that nobody can get to it. You know I’m not worrying about being close to where the bike is locked up to, or worried about it not being there, because I know it’s going to be there. I wish New York had something like this, if we have lockers like on every corner, it would be pretty freaking amazing. You know, so I went out, got myself a slice of pizza, I’m eating it here in this wonderful park, and I know that, you know, my bike is a couple of blocks away and it’s going to be just fine.

[music]

http://transcriptdivas.ca/transcription-canada/

Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • http://sustainableflatbush.org Anne

    wow, what a fantastic system! it would be amazing to have that in NYC. maybe the inevitable critics of its cheapness would be satisfied if the price were based on a fraction of the parking meter prices...

  • http://www.ebbc.org Robert Raburn

    Splendid video! BART intends to install 200 by November and Oakland
    will soon open new elockers near the 20th and Broadway BART entrance. The East Bay Bicycle Coalition is advocating for additional installations. We want eLockers at all transit hubs and major destinations. Given the recent Macarthur Maze Collapse adding to the bike-transit passenger volume--filling available bike racks--we could really use more eLockers now!

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  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence

    Just a quick post to let folks know there is lots of discussion going on about this post over on Streetsblog:
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/05/14/streetfilms-bike-parking-for-just-pennies-per-hour/

  • http://you-just-dont-want-to.blogspot.com/ Smudgemo

    I can look out my office window and see the Oakland bike locker right now. Strangely enough I only saw one bike in the whole structure on bike to work day last week. I have a rack in my building, but I'd consider using the lockers were it to fill up regularly or I just wanted to waste less time in the elevator to drop off my bike or go get it.

    I still worry about theft and would feel a lot better if there were anything inside to lock to. I'm sure that is overkill and silly, but I really like my bike and fret over theft. Thanks for highlighting the stuff going on here in Berkeley and Oakland, and how good we've got it compared to so many other places.

  • http://you-just-dont-want-to.blogspot.com/ Smudgemo

    I should note that today there were probably 4-5 bikes locked up when I left work. Perhaps they were noticed during BTW day? Now I might be less inclined to use them if my building's rack isn't full. I'd hate to ace someone out of a spot that I really didn't need.

  • Fry2k

    i wish these bike lockers in my town :)

  • Jean-Claude Kaufmann

    Sure lets put a 3'x6' box on every corner in Manhattan so that pedestrians will not be able to cross streets or move around. For those of you not totally blind , you may have notice that the density of Oakland pedestrian traffic and the availability of open space are not hallmarks of Manhattan. Even in Brooklyn and the Bronx the sidewalks are not wide enough to accommodate these boxes. What are your editors thinking? So where exactly would you put these bike stalls in Manhattan?

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence

    NYC is currently in a mode of forward thinking at the highest levels of the NYC DOT. What we would propose is a parking swap, take back parking spaces, widen the sidewalks in some spots and place some bike parking amenities wherever plausible.

    Currently NYC's first stab at this going on in Brooklyn at Bedford Avenue. See streetsblog story here:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2006/12/22/small-step-for-pedestrians-giant-leap-for-nyc/

  • dave

    I'd like to see a tax credit to any parking garage that adds this option to it's car park business. NYC lacks the street space for the Bart style parking but I wish we could take a good bike up to the Met and lock it up and not worry.

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  • Jaime

    re: tax credits... not necessary. San Francisco requires all parking garages to offer bike parking (racks and space, not necessarily this secure). In a garage, security is usually higher than on the street for both cars and bikes. The bike parking doesn't have to be free, however, but usually is (or is cheap).

  • Rubique

    (one of) The point of bicycle is a much lower land use for parking than cars. Also, unless those boxes are available everywhere you might ride, you still need your bike security kit.

    Road designs that allow bike parking is a much more realistic solution for security. For example, we need parking meters with built-in attach for U-locks, and stuff like this.