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W. K. Lis

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Secure bicycle parking?

oonee-on-the-street-crop.jpg

Is this the future of secure bike parking? Photo: Oonee

Oonee — the secure bike parking company that the (New York City) de Blasio administration can’t figure out what to do with — will install two new compact, ad-free curbside pods somewhere in the city, based on suggestions from the public.

The units, which hold about six or seven bikes, plus a pump for public use, were funded by Voi, the scooter company. Oonee has previously sited larger pods in pilot programs near the Barclays Center, the Staten Island Ferry terminal in Manhattan and in Journal Square in Jersey City, but company founder Shabazz Stuart believes the smaller units could be rapidly deployed everywhere, once the city gives the green light and investors see that the concept works.
“This should function like bike corrals,” he said of his pods, which are unlocked with a free phone app or key card. “People should be empowered to request one of these for their curb space. Why should a person with a car be unilaterally allowed to say, ‘I’m going to take up eight feet in front of this random building?’ Why can’t the majority of residents of the block say, ‘No, we want to use that space for bike parking’ or ‘We want that space for a cafe’?”

Obviously, the first two pods won’t make money — they do not feature ads on them — but Stuart’s company hopes to deploy the larger pods and some smaller pods with ads where they are appropriate (such as in commercial districts) to underwrite many more ad-free pods in residential communities, where bike parking is essential.

The ad model is the only one that will work, Stuart said.

“Secure bike parking must be open and accessible to everyone,” he said. “We’ve learned that people don’t want to pay for another service — they already pay for bike share, for the subway, for Netflix. So advertising and sponsorship is appropriate in commercial areas, just as with bus shelters, newsstands and LinkNYC terminals. All of those are much more costly than what I am talking about, but are readily accepted. It’s not inappropriate to have advertising on one pod in Herald Square to finance 10 of the smaller pods in Crown Heights. And there will be so much demand from residential blocks where people have to currently carry their bikes up three flights.”

There seems to be universal acceptance of the idea that bike parking is a necessity in a city where cycling is booming, but there is only space for one bike for every 116 cyclists. A recent report by Transportation Alternatives said that the city is undermining local businesses, abetting a rise in bike theft, slowing the use of bikes for commuting or errand running, and even undermining public safety because of a lack of bike parking. After that report came out, Mayor de Blasio appointed intellectual property lawyer Hank Gutman to the position of DOT commissioner, with a mandate to install 10,000 bike-parking spaces by the end of the year.

Could Oonee be a part of that? Stuart says yes (but DOT declined to comment for this story).

“We’ve been singing this gospel for years: we are a born-and-bred New York City company that knows how to build beautiful bike parking facilities that are free for the city and for users,” Stuart said. “The new pods could be rented by BIDs or building owners or facilities, or the DOT could tell us where to put them.”
oonee-3-crop.jpg

Here’s a single pod on a brownstone street. Graphic: Oonee

Voi said it was happy to help because even though it is primarily a scooter company (which is competing to win the city’s bidding process for scooter-share), the company believes that the more butts that are on bikes, the better it is for all micromobility firms (and a recent study bears that out).

“Voi launched our City Innovation Fund in 2020 to help advance new solutions around micromobility parking, safety, and sustainability,” said the company’s chief commercial officer, Carl Vernersson. “We use this fund to advance solutions that help all forms of micromobility to thrive in our partner cities. Lack of bike parking is a big challenge in New York, and Oonee offers a quick-deploy solution that works.”

It appears unlikely that the DOT will allow Oonee to deploy the two prototype pods in curbside spaces, but other non-DOT property exists.

“The goal of the prototype is clear: there are 1.6 million cyclists who are under-served,” Stuart said. “I know you hear promises all the time from start-ups, but we are advocates who are committed to this. It is rare to have a private sector operator working so hard to get something done. The city doesn’t have to do anything.”

Also link.

Tech & Ops Features

Smart Access technology lets allows for unlocking by a keycard or a smartphone.

Interior Illumination lets cyclists find their bike inside Mini, even during the darkest hours of the night.

Air Pump with both Presta and Schrader valves for free & easy air

Hydraulic Sliding Doors for easy opening and automated closing.

Insurance coverage for bikes and scooters inside lets riders rest easy

Oonee Care keeps the pods in tip-top shape and provides cyclists with rapid response customer service
curbside_studio_02+%281%29.jpg

Design Features

Accent cladding and colors can provide an individual touch to unique settings and streetscapes

Custom Greenery and planting boxes for plantings

Exterior Accent Lighting for warm illumination and placemaking

Scratch Resistant Powder Coat Paint helps protects the Mini from vandalism and damage

Glossy Finish ensures that pods are reflective and visible even during evening hours
 

Northern Light

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Always enjoy Matt's writing.

I think he glosses over a couple of things though.

He notes that cycling skews white and high income.

What he only references tangentially at the end of his piece is that most cycle tracks and commuter trails are concentrated in the central city, where incomes tend to be higher; and that is reflected in the cultural make up of the denizens.

He notes, as he should, that there is a need to extend Bikeshare deeper in the burbs.

But he omits a few things.

1) You can't ignore the elephant in the room, that its near impossible to live in the central city, except as a resident of social housing, if you are not high income. That needs addressing, as apart from cycling.

2) Income opportunities remain unequal; while gaps have closed in some respects; communities that are the most marginalized aren't seeing generation over generation improvements in educational attainment and income as one might hope. That too needs addressing.

3) Cycle tracks are an important part of building a suburban cycling community; but many of the people who oppose them either drive, even as low-income earners; or taken transit which can be caught up in traffic. In order to shift people's mode of transportation, you not only need to bring up the quality of transit; you also need to change land use. People will walk and bike when that gets them to the store, school or work within 15 minutes or so............... If the nearest supermarket is further than that; cycle tracks don't change much.
 

Undead

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Good point, Northern. The issue, as always, is economics. Not race like our oh so fashionable race hustlers would have us believe.
 

Northern Light

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Good point, Northern. The issue, as always, is economics. Not race like our oh so fashionable race hustlers would have us believe.

That would not represent my view accurately.

I would say economics are a key factor often overlooked in these discussions.

Land use is obviously another inter-related issue.

One can't say race (as in discrimination) is not a factor on the economic side; I would argue its not that much of a factor on the cycling side; but the two are linked.

That is to say, like most things, these issues are nuanced and should not be reduced to only the simplest of answers.

In fairness to Matt he has a word count for his column, and a fulsome discussion of this issue could easily exceed it by a factor of 10.
 

mjl08

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Always enjoy Matt's writing.

I think he glosses over a couple of things though.

He notes that cycling skews white and high income.

What he only references tangentially at the end of his piece is that most cycle tracks and commuter trails are concentrated in the central city, where incomes tend to be higher; and that is reflected in the cultural make up of the denizens.

He notes, as he should, that there is a need to extend Bikeshare deeper in the burbs.

But he omits a few things.

1) You can't ignore the elephant in the room, that its near impossible to live in the central city, except as a resident of social housing, if you are not high income. That needs addressing, as apart from cycling.

2) Income opportunities remain unequal; while gaps have closed in some respects; communities that are the most marginalized aren't seeing generation over generation improvements in educational attainment and income as one might hope. That too needs addressing.

3) Cycle tracks are an important part of building a suburban cycling community; but many of the people who oppose them either drive, even as low-income earners; or taken transit which can be caught up in traffic. In order to shift people's mode of transportation, you not only need to bring up the quality of transit; you also need to change land use. People will walk and bike when that gets them to the store, school or work within 15 minutes or so............... If the nearest supermarket is further than that; cycle tracks don't change much.

Solid points. I should note that the few visible minorities I've seen on the Danforth lanes (which I frequent the most) are disproportionately food delivery cyclists.
 

Northern Light

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Solid points. I should note that the few visible minorities I've seen on the Danforth lanes (which I frequent the most) are disproportionately food delivery cyclists.

Differences occur in these numbers for reasons both overt and subtle.

Lets consider that minorities in the Danforth area will be inordinately concentrated in apartments. (economics)

Lets also consider those apartments with near zero exceptions have no secure ground-floor bike parking.

I live in a decent building, and have some sway here, but I haven't been able to get that added in my complex.

The simple hassle of taking one's bike up and down an elevator, then having to store it on a balcony or the wall of an apartment, stifles a lot of interest.

Locking your bike up outside, overnight, every night is a good way to wake up without a ride.

****

We also have to consider that cycling is something we typically rely on parents to teach children; that's how I learned.

What if one's parents have never biked?

Is the simple act of basic instruction a barrier?

What if Can-Bike level 1 (essentially intro to cycling) were a standard part of the school curriculum? Or even offered for free though City recreation centres.

When we address barriers like that, the composition of cyclists will more closely reflect the demographics of the City.
 
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TRONto

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Always enjoy Matt's writing.

I think he glosses over a couple of things though.

He notes that cycling skews white and high income.

What he only references tangentially at the end of his piece is that most cycle tracks and commuter trails are concentrated in the central city, where incomes tend to be higher; and that is reflected in the cultural make up of the denizens.

He notes, as he should, that there is a need to extend Bikeshare deeper in the burbs.

But he omits a few things.

1) You can't ignore the elephant in the room, that its near impossible to live in the central city, except as a resident of social housing, if you are not high income. That needs addressing, as apart from cycling.

2) Income opportunities remain unequal; while gaps have closed in some respects; communities that are the most marginalized aren't seeing generation over generation improvements in educational attainment and income as one might hope. That too needs addressing.

3) Cycle tracks are an important part of building a suburban cycling community; but many of the people who oppose them either drive, even as low-income earners; or taken transit which can be caught up in traffic. In order to shift people's mode of transportation, you not only need to bring up the quality of transit; you also need to change land use. People will walk and bike when that gets them to the store, school or work within 15 minutes or so............... If the nearest supermarket is further than that; cycle tracks don't change much.
#3 is important. Do the people living in low income areas want bike lanes? Just because others may think it's better doesn't translate to desire by local residents. I remember the Flemingdon park area went through this, during discussions the people said yes, when it came to implementation the people said no. What is the right answer?
 

Northern Light

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#3 is important. Do the people living in low income areas want bike lanes? Just because others may think it's better doesn't translate to desire by local residents. I remember the Flemingdon park area went through this, during discussions the people said yes, when it came to implementation the people said no. What is the right answer?

I think the answer is 'yes', but with caveats.

First, addressing the 'easy yes'es; ie bike lanes where that doesn't mean cutting a traffic lane, and/or adding off-road trails.

Second, it means addressing those conditions in the area that make cycling/walking/transit less desirable and therefore bike lanes less appealing and car lanes moreso.

That's the land-use question, that's the nearby supermarket, that's the streetscape, that's easy linkage across a major road etc. etc.

These things need to flow in a logical order, building them momentum for a shift in the way people live; not attempting for force a square peg into a round hole.

Bike lanes/cycle tracks on bridges should be a priority everywhere when reconstructed though.

But otherwise, focus on those other investments; and building the bike lanes out from the centre of the City over time, and from key suburban nodes, primarily university and college campuses where the demand is already there.
 
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Avenue

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Yeah, "cycling skews white and high income" is way off the mark. I've been cycling in this city for leisure and commute for years. This is not cottaging, golfing or French immersion.
 

afransen

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I think the skew of cycling infrastructure in wealthier (and thus whiter areas) is a legitimate concern. I think that is more a socioeconomic concern than racial. Toronto doesn't really have racialized neighbourhoods in the same way many US cities do.

The one cultural factor that may be a barrier is cyclist elitism/gatekeeping. Not all are guilty of it, but some "cyclists" make it non-inclusive by emphasizing it as a sporting activity rather than transportation (go fast), having the best/most sporty bike rather than something reliable and comfortable, and helmet wearing. From a safety perspective, I think it is far more important that people have proper lights on their bike than wear a helmet.
 

MisterF

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The fact that the city is barely even trying to put cycling infrastructure along suburban arterials where much of the lower income population lives is a big part of the problem. Regressive councillors from those parts of the city aren't helping, and neither is the perception that cycling is for liberal downtown elites. And when cycling infrastructure is built in the suburbs it's usually badly designed. Nobody wants to ride in a painted bike lane on a huge street with cars roaring by at 80 km/h. Or on a multi use trail that treats cyclists as pedestrians at intersections.

While pedestrian oriented areas lend themselves to cycling better than car oriented suburbs, cycling can still be made relevant in the latter. What those parts of the city need is a network of multi use trails and/or protected bike lanes with proper protected intersections. The boulevards on suburban roads have more than enough room. Cycling is obviously a lot more affordable than buying a car, so there's zero reason that it should be associated with any income group or ethnicity.
 

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