When thinkers and environmentalists raised concerns over the pollution created by the fossil fuel cars, many resorted to using bicycles for their daily commutes. The trend became widespread in China, Japan, and quite a lot in Europe, so much that cities like Copenhagen began to face bicycle traffic jams very frequently. The city dealt with the problem efficiently by use of electronic panels, but Japan thought of an ingenious solution for the bike parking problem.
Giken launched ECO Cycle in 2013, that are basically underground robotic parking garages spread all over Japan packing hundreds of bicycles in a compact space underground, thus solving the parking and theft problems. Ever since the launch, Giken has established 50 of these in many places in Japan, and they continue to grow globally.
The unique press-in technology from Giken allows the ECO Cycle system to be installed in very small places, the desperate need of the packed crowded urban spaces. The only space the system requires on land is for the entrance and exit booths, only slightly bigger than the old telephone booths. The ECO Cycle system is mechanical but computer controlled and fully automated. The safety of bikes is ensured through the use of surveillance sensors and a personal card, or a tag is issued to the owner to make the system easier to use.
The system requires only 13 seconds to store or retrieve your bicycle, much lesser than the time it takes for you to find a spot and lock it. All that the owner has to do is push the bicycle forward to the front entrance and IC tag attached to the bike activates the front wheel shutter lock. When the bike is pushed forwards, you can insert the front wheel into the slot, then clamp and fix it. Then you only have to press the “drop-off start” button, and the robot system will then take on from there, putting your bike to safety.
While the ECO Cycle sure protects your bike while saving public space, Giken also claims it to be earthquake resistant. Each of these anti-seismic places can store about 800 bicycles at a time, and creators wish to implement the same kind of design for robotic parking stations. The system has not seen implementation yet, but it does not sound too far ahead or unrealistic either.
We are just sitting here wondering why the system is still limited to Japan. The idea began implementation nearly four years ago, and it is high time that the rest of the world tastes the luxury of ECO Cycle.
Here is a video demonstrating the ECO cycle system in use: