The Impact of Bike Racks on Cities
For many commuters, biking to and from work is part of their normal routine. When they’ve reached their destination, locking their bike to the nearest bike rack is the next step post-commute. But for many bike racks, their appearances have most likely seen better days. From rust to unkempt tangles of metal – many bike racks are greatly influencing the overall aesthetic of cities. On the contrary, many cities do not have enough bike racks to spare for riders, which means that bikers lock their bikes to alternative objects such as, fences, trees, and other parts of the cityscape.
Exactly how can cities fix the impact bike racks have on the cityscape?
For Japan, underground bike vaults are the norm. Yes, you heard that right. With 14% of commuting traffic by bike, Tokyo has created thousands of underground parking vaults to preserve the appearance of its city. The vaults are “gateways to futuristic subterranean parking lots, which each plummet nearly 40 feet into the ground and are home to hundreds of tightly stacked bikes”. Since 78% of households own bikes, Japanese-based Eco-Cycle created thousands of the 560-square-foot “kiosks” to store bikes underground and help tidy sidewalks.
Contrary to Japan, the Czech Republic has created above ground bicycle towers. Velo, the importer of the towers, designed the tower in Hradec Kralove, which “consists of 7 tiers and is capable of holding 117 units”. The tower has the functionality to store the bike, as well as accessories such as helmets. The automated tower incorporates a centralized padded unit that rotates the bikes 360 degrees, can move the bikes up and down the 7 tiers, and retrieve the bikes in 30 seconds. The tower was originally designed to house motor vehicles, however, with the rising costs of gasoline and impacts of fuel, the number of cyclists have steadily increased.
Another option for dealing with the increase in bikes is enforcing citywide policies. The Denver Police Department has collected thousands of bicycles that were stolen, abandoned or confiscated by officers, however, most of the bikes were not claimed by residents. Instead of continuing to store the bikes, the DPD auctioned off the 140 bikes to the highest bidders.
As cyclist congestion continues to increase, many cities are taking matters into their own hands to protect the citizens’ personal belongings, preserve streetscape, and encourage alternate transportation. From above and underground parking systems to citywide policies, it’s clear that solutions to the overabundance of bicycles will continue to make major headway as many opt to pedal over driving their car.