The Bike Revolution Needs Safe and Secure Parking, Like Oonee

©. Oonee

As scooters and e-bikes proliferate, we need a place to put them.

Ever since I got my e-bike I have worried about parking. E-bikes are expensive, and I have written that "secure bike parking and storage is really going to be the third leg of the stool that will make the e-bike revolution happen: good bikes, good bike lanes, and a safe, secure place to park."

That's why I was so excited to listen to the latest episode of my favorite podcast, The War on Cars, which discussed this neglected issue and a great solution: Oonee.

The vast majority of cyclists do not have access to secure parking facilities. As a result, over half of all urban riders have experienced bike theft and many more have experienced vandalism or accidental damage while bikes are left on the street.

With the e-bike revolution, this is even more critical. Scooters are another new form of mobility that we have to accommodate. As Oonee notes on their site, this is "a massive unmet need."

It's designed specifically for the purpose (unlike Cyclehoop's converted shipping container).

Oonee box at Barclays

© Oonee box at Barclays

It's also really nice looking, with a green roof or any other architectural treatment, so it can be put anywhere. And thank you, CEO Shabazz Stuart, for not making it out of trendy Cor-ten steel like the rusty Barclays Center behind it in Brooklyn. They really do think of it as more than just a box:

Bicycles and scooters are indelibly linked to streets and public spaces. That’s why we gave Oonee a dual purpose: provide great mobility infrastructure, while enlivening surrounding public spaces. Each Oonee is an iconic sculpture that steals the show; providing benches, seating, greenery and other placemaking features in an iconic super-customizable frame.

This isn't just for people like me with expensive bikes; Shabazz Stuart explains in the podcast that they are often used late at night by delivery workers who ride all day and need a secure lockup for their bike overnight – because bike parking is a problem for everyone. Oonee is also free, subsidized by advertisers. This is important for people who can't afford to pay much for parking.

Oonee Interior

© Oonee

I do worry a bit that all of the parking appears to be vertical. This is obviously more space-efficient but many e-bikes are heavier and many riders are older and perhaps not strong enough to lift the bike up. I do hope there are some horizontal spots available.

UPDATE: I asked Oonee about this issue and Yosef responded promptly:

In the future, we aim to make configurations of the kiosk that will include different types of racks. Oonee is modular--it can take many shapes and sizes. Our current and first iteration of the kiosk, which has 20 vertical racks, is simply our prototype. We plan, however, to design new infrastructures of many different form factors. This will allow us to incorporate horizontal racks, double decker horizontal racks, and adaptive bike parking in future editions.

Lloyd Alter/ snow storage at Ryerson University/CC BY 2.0

Finding a decent place to park a bike is a universal problem. In Europe we have seen how they take it very seriously, but in North America, it is an afterthought. Where I teach at Ryerson University in Toronto, the bike parking is a convenient place for them to push all the snow; I had to dig this out last week. If I want secure indoor parking I have to pay $75 for the whole school year when I teach just one term, once a week. Meanwhile, car commuters are screaming because the people who run the expensive commuter parking lots that cost $40,000 per space are considering charging for parking.

Three locks on my bike

Three locks on my bike/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

So I continue to leave my e-bike outside, with three locks that, on their own, cost as much as a bike, and still I worry. That's why every city needs Oonee.


And of course, Clarence did a video:

Oonee Debuts Bike Parking in Brooklyn from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.