Biking is an integral mode of transportation in many countries including China, France and Brazil, but it is only recently becoming more integrated into the lives of the US. Many of these countries listed have already began viewing bicycles as part of their daily lives and have found ways to incorporate bikes into the city infrastructure. Paris has plans to place thousands of free bikes around the city for public use. Brazil boasts one of the largest bike garages in the world. In the US, many states are beginning to integrate bike garages with the natural cityscape either by merging it with potential bulidings and free space or creating small-scale garages.
One of the most recent cities to begin pushing bicycle transport is Philadelphia. A competition held by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council urged competitors to find ways to make urban areas more sustainable. The winner of the competition was architect Annie Scheel, who proposed an all-in-one bike garage (named BIKE) on an existing parking lot in central Philadelphia. Half of the area would be dedicated to bikes and besides parking for over 690 bikes would also include:
- courtyard/green area
- bike shop
- meeting room
- bike swap
- bike rental
The other half of the lot would be open for commercial and business properties. The building itself would be in an L-shape with the bike garage encased all in glass and rising to four-stories in front, courtyard in the middle and commercial in the back. This layout allows for pedestrians to still have a pleasant view of the green area and also allow more natural light to the streets and surrounding buildings[Source: Treehugger].
Of course, Philadelphia is not the first city to have an interest in bike garages. Brazil boasts one of the largest bike garages in the city of Sao Paolo. The garage, Ascobike, houses 1,700 bikes daily and is conveniently located next to public transportation so people can drop off the bikes and ride the trains. Besides this nice commuter benefit and low cost ($5/month), Ascobike also offers “a series of social, legal and bicycle education services” [Source: Treehugger] for cyclists. The increased growth of cyclists in other countries have led to various designs for bike garages. The main issue for these storage units is maximizing the amount of bikes in the buildings. Two designers, Abhinav Dapke and Yinnon Lehrer have come up with a potential solution by creating a vertical parking spot. Lehrer’s design provides similar amenities to Scheel’s BIKE like showers, bathrooms and lockers. Dapke’s design is a simplified version and only features a parking area. Another design team, Penny Farthings, has minitiarized the parking building to a parking station. These stations, called the Green Pod, are 2.4 metres wide by 5 metres long and features up to 28 parking spots, 2 showers, 2 change rooms and 28 lockers [Source: Catapult]. The pod operates on a 12V DC system powered by solar panels on the roof that also heats the water tank. Any grey water from the station is discharged into green areas. Other functionalities include:
- electronic locking system
- LED lighting activated by motion sensors
- timed showers
- self cleaning mechanism [Source: Penny Farthings].
Many cities around the world have adopted a two-wheeled manual alternative to automobiles and the question of where to store these bikes has been answered with bike garages. These garages are rapidly evolving and, should there be enoug support, become incorporated into the urban landscape. While it’s still too soon to say goodbye to cars, these added amenities could convince many people to pick up biking again.