Sunday, December 12, 2010
Bike Vending Machines
Start with three competing forces - the Japanese desire for convenience; the lack of space in Tokyo; and the wish to get around on bicycles when having a car is too much work but you still need to take the train in to get to work or school. Naturally, one obvious effect will be the development of bicycle parking lots near the stations. But, that's not enough. I'd mentioned car vending machines before - parking silos that have an elevator for lifting your car up to a specific floor and then recovering it again later. But this is the first time I've seen this for bikes.
There are 3 separate elevators in this complex.
It's fully automated. Put your bike in the groove, take your belongings out of the basket, put your money (or use your electronic Suica card for an electronic cash payment) in the box, and leave. The vending machine does the rest. You are given a receipt card, and you insert that in the box later when you want to retrieve the bike.
Japan is cool this way. So, if you want to use the vending machine yourself, just hang around until someone forgets or drops their receipt card - viola, free bike!