ECO Cycle Parks Your Bike in 13 Seconds

©. Giken via Designboom

It may not make economic sense to park bikes this way, but it sure is fun to watch.

We first showed the amazing underground bike storage systems almost a decade ago, and were somewhat dubious that such a fancy storage mechanism could be economically viable. But according to Designboom, there are now over 50 of these installations in Japan and they are planning a global expansion.

How to use ECO Cycle from 株式会社 技研製作所 on Vimeo.

Manufacturer Giken now calls it the ECO Cycle, which sounds more like a button on a dishwasher than a bike storage system, but it's really quite remarkable when you watch the video, how it grabs the bike and stores it (first half of the video) and how it prevents humans from screwing it up (second half).

bike storage entry

© Giken via Designboom

If you stand on that grey mat inside the yellow line it will tell you to move away; if the bike isn't properly in the slot it will tell you to fix it; the machine anticipates every stupid human move.

construction sequence drawing

© Giken

Also interesting is the construction. The manufacturer Giken is not in the bike storage business but in the pile driving, heavy construction business. Their real job here is making the hole. The underground cylinder is made of sheet pilings driven into the ground with their "press-in" technology that avoids the banging that comes with conventional pile driving. Being circular, they will be in compression and will be self-supporting, so it is pretty economical and doesn't need a lot of concrete. Then they dig out the dirt and drop the mechanism in. If times and needs change, they can just fill up the hole and pull out the piles.

The pressed-in sheet piles used in the construction of ECO Cycle can be removed, relocated and reused at another location. They may also be used for a completely different structural purpose. ECO Cycle performs a necessary function for a certain period and can be easily removed when its purpose is completed. It can be relocated and reused elsewhere. This way ECO Cycle is “a functional structure” that is environmentally conscious and has a function-based reusable life cycle.
bikes in copenhagen

Lloyd Alter/ bikes in Copenhagen/CC BY 2.0

Bike storage is a real problem in cities with lots of bikes. Where I live in Toronto, Canada, I often have to walk a block or two to find a ring that isn't occupied. In Copenhagen there are places where it seems a whole block is filled with parked bikes. This Giken system seems a bit elaborate, but it may be inevitable that the only place to go is down. More photos on Designboom.