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Bicycle trend boosts demand for parking solutions

By Ryo Aoki / Yomiuri Shimbun Photographer
Bicycles are seen in an automated underground parking lot in Katsushika Ward on Nov. 2.

In September, Katsushika Ward in Tokyo opened a new bicycle parking lot that can accommodate over 400 bicycles in an underground facility that resembles the set of a sci-fi movie.

The number of cyclists has surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing demand for bicycle parking lots in city centers.

Located a five-minute walk away from JR Shin-Koiwa Station, Katsushika Ward’s new parking lot features an automated loading system: All users have to do is set their bikes in the right position and push a button, after which the system whisks the bicycles into the subterranean storage space.

Giken Ltd., the developer of the parking lot, has installed underground facilities at 14 locations in Tokyo. The Koichi-based company said it has seen a surge in demand for its parking lots, especially in central Tokyo where it is difficult to secure land near stations.

Municipalities also hope the facilities will deter people from leaving bicycles on sidewalks near stations.

An innovative measure adopted to deter on-street parking includes trick art warning signs, which the municipality of Hachioji in Tokyo installed in March of last year in cooperation with engineering students from Takushoku University. Painted on sidewalks, the warning While we’re on the subject of bicycle parking, cycle cafes — many of which have racks or allow customers to park their bikes inside — have also been attracting attention amid the cycling boom.

“Many cafes don’t have bicycle storage space, so it’s very convenient,” said a customer at Cross Coffee, which opened in 2017 near an intersection that many cyclists pass in Inagi.

“The number of new customers has increased by 20%-30%, and the cafe is crowded with bicycle enthusiasts,” said Ryutaro Nakamoto, the 38-year-old manager of Cross Coffee. “We hope customers take a timeout to enjoy a cup of coffee here, before setting off again for an enjoyable and safe bike ride.”

By Ryo Aoki / Yomiuri Shimbun Photographer
Cyclists ride along a main road near Shibuya Station on Nov. 14.
By Ryo Aoki / Yomiuri Shimbun Photographer
CA cyclist takes a break at Cross Coffee in Inagi on Nov.14.
By Ryo Aoki / Yomiuri Shimbun Photographer
Hachioji has deployed trick art to deter people from parking bicycles on the sidewalk.