Is this the future of bike parking in Australia?

We’ve all become used to the stainless steel hoops riveted into the footpath as the standard for public bike parking across the country but anyone who has travelled overseas recently will have seen a new standard starting to make its mark.

It’s the electronic bike parking dock.

The beauty of these docks is that you don’t need to carry around a heavy bike lock and you have the peace of mind your bike will be there when you return as there have been zero thefts since the docks started rolling out five years ago.

They are unlocked by an app or card, you wheel your bike in and close the locking bar, then it will remain locked until you unlock it with the app or card.

If someone tries to tamper with the lock an alarm will sound and alert will be sent to the manager of the locking dock. They can also be installed next to CCTV to give another level of deterrence/chance of recovery.

You can also add a charger to the docks for locations where people may be travelling long distances.

Bike lockers which provide electronic opening and closing are also popping up in more places, but these tend to be more space hungry than the docks which have footprints similar to the banks of hoops.

However, the bike lockers do come with waterproofing which is a bonus in some climates and some also have the capacity to leave cycling gear in with the bike or charge the bike.

With more people buying electric bicycles for transport but concerned about theft, these kinds of parking solutions are as essential as installing fast chargers for electric cars.

New Zealand now has more than 100 sites for its “Locky Dock” electronic bike parking, bike docks are popping up across Europe and even North American cities are starting to install them.

One of the big manufacturers of the electronic docks as well as bike lockers is Bikeep, which started in Estonia, is now based in the US, and may soon have a presence in Australia. 

Bicycle Network had the pleasure of showing Hobart to Bikeep’s Chief Executive Officer Kristjan Lind on a flying visit to the Tasmanian capital.

As well as meeting with officials from state government and local council, Kristjan came on a bike ride with us to look at the types of places where bike lock docks would come in handy around the city.

Hobart's current ferry terminals, for example, and any future terminals to be built would be perfect spots, as ferry passengers would be more amenable to leaving their bike behind if they knew it was going to be there at the end of the day when they return.

The same goes for Hobart's bus park and ride services, which have bike parking cages but no security to give added protection on top of people’s personal bike locks. 

Locations with lots of visitors throughout the day such as the city library, hospital and city centre shopping areas are other obvious locations.

“Cities across the globe are starting to realize that over the last 100 years they have been designing environments for cars and are starting to design them for people. This will have a tremendous effect on our physical and mental health and wellbeing,” Kristjan said.

“It is estimated that by 2030 there are 10 micromobility vehicles sold per every car, so if our vehicles change then our cities need to change. Bikeep is happy to contribute with the smart infrastructure that enables cities to make best use of their cycleways and cyclist programs.”

“From my brief visit to Hobart I do have to say that the challenges ahead are very similar to other western cities – it’s purely a question of political will. There is not a city in the world who does not want to move towards more sustainable transportation options, question is only how fast anyone is willing to move.”

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