Tokyo is serious about its bicycles—and the city has come up with a super-safe, super-convenient way to store them. Eco Cycle is an automated underground bike parking system that’s been operating in the Japanese capital for years, and has since spread to cities across the country.
For 2,600 yen (about $26 CDN) per month, users get an account card and a digital tag to affix to the front of their bikes. Automatic sensors at each Eco Cycle station check the tag before opening a Starship Enterprise-style shutter door. Users then roll their bike up to the breach, snap it into place, press a button, and watch as the bike is lowered into the abyss on a mechanical platform and placed on a shelf.
Getting it back is as simple as scanning the account card at the station’s doors and waiting about 13 seconds for the two-wheeled steed to re-emerge. (You can see Eco Cycle in actionhere.)
The system can accommodate bikes up to 1.95 metres long and 1.25 metres tall with a wheel height under 71 centimetres. Eco Cycle locations vary in size—their storage capacities range from 100 bikes to more than 1,000. The system keeps bikes safe from thieves, and keeps Japan’s busy urban sidewalks free of bike racks.
For Toronto cyclists, that’s a compelling concept.
In August, bikes locked up outside the Hudson’s Bay Centre at Yonge and Bloor were confiscated by building security guards. The issue attracted social media outrage and extensive news coverage—and the property manager, Brookfield, eventually conceded they had no authority to move the bikes.
But the whole process raised questions that were never satisfactorily answered: Is there enough bike storage in Toronto? How well is it distributed throughout the city’s highest-traffic areas? And is it secure enough? The City claims to have 17,000 locking rings (those metal post-and-circle things) around Toronto, but they’re not exactly failsafe: Toronto police receive thousands of stolen bike reports each year—and many more thefts go unreported.
If Toronto wants to get more people cycling, it needs to ensure the infrastructure is in place to accommodate their bikes. Maybe the answer is an elaborate automatic bike storage system—or maybe it’s something simpler—but accommodation is the key.
BARRIE—Following Ontario’s best snowmobiling winter in years in 2013, the not-for-profit Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) and its member clubs are officially launching the 2014-15 snowmobiling season with Get Ready To Go Snowmobiling Ontario Week, November 24 to 30. The new season celebration starts as club volunteers are hard at work clearing, preparing and signing over 30,000 kilometres of OFSC trails to welcome snowmobilers back.
Although OFSC trails are not available for snowmobiling at this time, early indicators are very positive for a great snowmobile season ahead, with long-range forecasts predicting a cold, snowy winter and many parts of the province already experiencing below zero temperatures and early snowfalls. With the cooperation of Mother Nature, some OFSC trails could be available for limited riding around Christmas so snowmobilers are advised to check the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide for the latest updates at www.ofsc.on.ca.
With 2015 permits already setting new sales records, Get Ready To Go Snowmobiling Ontario Week invites more Ontarians to discover the family fun of organized snowmobiling, plus its many social, health and recreational benefits. Get Ready Week is also the cue for OFSC snowmobilers to start making their Ontario ride plans and preparing their sleds and gear. As well, this special week marks the final days that Seasonal and Classic Snowmobile Trail Permits are available at pre-December 1 savings. Permits can be bought online at www.ofsc.on.ca.