Japan Underground Bicycle Parking Systems
While we do have a load of cars and public transport all over the place - the bicycle is still very much a common way to get around in Japan.
So much so that finding a place to park ones two wheeler can be a problem - its even more of a problem when folks start to park illegally.
To remedy this problem, construction company Giken have come up with a solution which stores hundreds of bicycles underground using a system called Eco Cycle - a robot system which stores bicycles underground in a 11 meter deep well.
Check out the video below to see the underground bicycle parking systems in action. The video is a snippet from my TV show Culture Japan.
And this is what a cross section of Eco Cycle looks like.
This diagram shows how the bicycles are arranged so that its able to store 204 units.
This is how the construction is done for those of you who are considering having one in your back yard which will take only 2 months to stick in place.
If this looks impressive then the one that stores cars should impress you more.
If you want to take a look at Eco Cycle in action, you need to first get off at Shinagawa station and head towards Kounanhoshi Park [こうなん星の公園] at the location on the map below.
Or copy paste the following into your mobile device maps app.
Shinagawa is full of offices meaning that you will encounter a load of Japanese salarymen.
If you go during lunch then you will see a load of them queue up for food.
Setting up camera equipment. This footage was shot for Season 1. For Season 2 we switched to using Sony - one of the reasons is because of the better noise reduction.
I'm terrible at remembering my lines which is why from Season 2, I got rid of the script and we done everything ad-lib.
This was taken at a time when I used to spike my hair upwards - but that wasn't too good at hiding my baldness which is why my hair is now always flat ><
Warning signs asking owners to remove things like valuables and pets from the basket before stowing their bicycle away.
There is a little chip inside this black attachment which will open the door of the loading bays when you push the bicycle near it.
My wife also appears in the short snippet too ^o^
There is a yellow line that boxes off the loading bay and for safety purposes, the speed of the arm that grabs the bicycle will either slow down or stop if you step inside the yellow lines.
The machine then pulls in the bicycle and finds and empty slot for it by whizzing around and downwards.
This whole process takes about 8 seconds - same for retrieval too.
If you watched the video you can see the footage taken from this camera we strapped to the seat.
And you also see me taking a photo of this bicycle as its pulled into the docking bay.
This payment unit is available for owners of the bicycle parking systems to charge passers-by for stowing their bicycle away.
For these ones in Shinagawa however, all folks need to have an account.
Folks who are considering to park their two wheeler here should call up the facilities first.
We get to take a peek at the security systems in place too which have cameras not only facing the door but also looking down on the silo and at many locations dotted around inside of the well.
These camera's are not only for security but for safety too.
We also interview the man in charge of everything too. He said off camera that while they are rolling more of these out in Japan, they are looking into taking this technology overseas too.
If you are interested then let me know and I'll hook you up with him!
The green button tells the machine that you are ready to have your bicycle stowed away.
A robotic arm comes to grab the front wheel and pulls it into the machine.
To retrieve my bicycle, I use my member card.
All I do is touch my card to the panel like so...
The robotic arm inside the well goes to the location of your bicycle...
Grabs the front wheel...
There is a window on the other side of the silo which enables you to look inside.
An within 8 seconds I have my bicycle.
Taking stuff to put underground and out of sight.
Freeing up space above ground for those who need it.
Each well can hold 200 bicycles as long as the length of the bicycle is more than 1400mm and less than 1900mm long and weighs less than 30Kg.
And I'm off!
A couple more photos taken during filming.
After filming we are back to Shinagawa station to head to the next filming location...