The problems with parking your bike in a city—or anywhere, really—create a long list: rain and snow, the chance that it will be stolen, there’s never enough parking, and so on. But in the last few years, Japan has taken to dealing with this issue in, innovative, seemingly futuristic way: automated underground bike parking garages.
These garages, which can hold more than 800 bikes, took years to design while researchers tried to take every variable into account in order to be able to service the highest number of “vehicles.” In practice, according to the video, the interior robotic mechanism can accept or deliver your bike in under 30 seconds, tracking your specific bike to a matching transit card. Being underground obviously saves space, and since your bike is tied to your card, you don’t really even have to carry a bike lock (even one that’s as cool as this). In terms of flaws, there’s only one that comes to mind: a place to store your helmet with your bike.
Going into the history of the company and getting pretty specific about technical details of construction, the video gets a little long. You’ll get most of what you need watching the first minute, but the remaining 3.5 really are pretty interesting.
And lastly, perhaps predictably, my usual call: U.S., are you watching and listening? The technology should be available by now, but as of yet, we're struggling to simply get bike lanes in major cities, let alone adequate bike parking—all while other bike-friendly cities and countries continue to push alternate transportation (Denmark is considering heating their bike lanes for winter cycling, while London ponders elevating a bicycle super highway, after all). But I wouldn't mind if this was the way that we finally hopped on board, as I can think of more than one big city *cough New York, Portland, L.A. cough* that would be a great place to get underground bike parking started.