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  (Source: FastCompany)
Automated underground bike parking in Japan

Bicycle use is an important part of daily life in Japan; crowded conditions make car use expensive and less convenient than in the west. Finding a place to park your vehicle close to home can involve large monthly fees, and you will be charged a fee every time you use the national highway system.

Bicycles are used for daily grocery shopping, for transporting children, and for getting to the all important train station. Many stations have large bicycle parking lots that can house thousands of bikes and charge a monthly fee for parking. Often the bicycles are parked by side by side up to as many as will fit. It is an expensive space consuming solution for the need for parking. These parking facilities are often manned by 3 to 4 people resulting in a higher monthly fee to pay for their wages.

In response to the need for a better way to park bicycles Giken has developed a multi-tiered storage facility that takes in your bicycle at an automated kiosk and stores it in an underground rotating parking system. According to FastCompany, the service costs 2,600 Yen ($29 USD) per month. A video of the service in action can be seen as a YouTube link in the FastCompany article.

Cost wise, the service is about the same as a traditional parking system, but the main advantage for the user is the quick and labor less retrieval of their bicycle. Normally you would need to walk in to the parking facility and find your bicycle among the hundreds of identical bikes. The space savings are also considerable when compared to a traditional bicycle parking area.

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RE: I don't get it...
By Fritzr on 12/29/2008 9:32:02 PM , Rating: 2
I's a jukebox ... you put your bike in the entry slot, pay your fee and receive a coded card (day parking) or use your permanent card (like a debit card for monthly parking) When all that is done, the gate closes and the jukebox's fetch arm puts your bike in the designated slot.

To get your bike back you use your coded card to tell the equipment which bike to fetch. the spindle spins, the fetch arm drops to the correct level, the bike is pulled out and moved to the entry slot ... user pulls bike out & rides away.

Most likely the bike will be placed in a "sleeve" in the entry slot & it is that "sleeve" that will be moving around in the jukebox innards ... bike falls apart or things fall out of bags or off frame and they will be on the floor under the bike when you get it out. Those are engineering details & will likely have many solutions.

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