A friend sent me a link to a new robotic bike parking system in Tokyo, reminding me of one of my favorite topics: where to put all the bikes when everybody cycles. The Tokyo system is very cool and executed on quite a large scale. It apparently has space for 9400 bikes. Just for reference a parking garage for 9400 cars would be enormous – a quick calculation suggests that it’d be at least 150,000 m2 in surface area or perhaps much more considering all the entrance and exit paths necessary to keep it flowing.
The video of the parking garage in action here can be found on a gazillion sites already so here’s a French language blog with a thorough description with photos and videos of the Tokyo system at Kasai (train) Station. The photo above is from this site and the author is apparently busy with an English translation. There are also many nice pictures and descriptions of the 2008 Sakura, the cherry blossoms the Japanese are crazy about.Cleanliness and technical perfection aside I’m skeptical about whether such an elaborate, high-tech bike parking system is really necessary. For example, the humble fietsflat in Amsterdam holds about 4000 bikes on any given day and its nothing more than a three level metal structure with a lot of bike racks. Of course the fietsflat and its users are not so kind to your bicycle.
There are also other automated bike parking systems. This Dutch system called “Fietsmolen” (Bicycle Mill) is simpler and seems to offer much higher density. A couple examples have been built in Holland. The fietsmolen is basically just a carousel with one or multiple concentric rings of bikes. Each ring rotates independently of the others and gets its own entrance. A two ring system holds 100 bikes and according to the creator rings can be placed inside and outside the basic module. That would offer space for about 200 bikes per unit, comparable to the 180 bikes per unit in the Tokyo Kasai system.
The Fietsmolen system can be placed underground or above ground, as needed. Of course multiple Fietsmolens could be installed together as has been done in the Tokyo Kasai system. When installed back to back the Fietsmolens pack together very densely.
The Fietsmolen site is in Dutch and not especially handy either. Keep clicking and you’ll find photos and examples.