Underground bike storage in Japan

April 2, 2012

Here at Lok’nStore; we are always on the lookout for innovative, exciting and cool ideas from around the world of self-storage. From the smallest kitchen storage jar to the biggest automated mechanical robot car parks – it is all about ideas that push the boundaries of storage that little bit further! Not for the first time we have spotted a brilliant idea for storing bicycles when they are not in use. It seems that the cycling industry produces some of the more interesting ways of utilising storage space, and this invention fromJapanmakes no exception.

As cities strive to maximise and find space in their modern construction projects, Japan has had to become one of the specialists in this area with Tokyo - and several surrounding prefectures - being the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents. Space here comes at a premium, so anywhere and everywhere has to be used for storage: even if it means building underground! The Gilken Company (Designing under the concept of “Culture Aboveground, Function Underground”) in Japan has found an ingenious way to store bicycles for commuters, by literally building their buildings: upside down. Gilken has constructed this Eco friendly, fully automated underground garages that on first glance look a little like ATM machines.

To use these unmanned (unlike Lok’nStore storage centres which are always manned during open hours) bike storage facilities, you just have to place the front wheel of your bike onto the runway. There is a slot opposite to pop your membership card into, and once the machinery has recognised you, it sucks your bike away safely into the abyss. It takes around 15 – 20 seconds for your bike to descend into the underground storage facility, where it is placed automatically into its own little underground slot, with space for up to 144 bikes. The retrieval process works in opposite, with your bike being safely returned to you once the machine has verified your id membership card. It takes Gilken about fifty days to build one of these facilities from scratch by using prefabricated structural cylinder piles that are ‘pressed-in’ to the ground with large piling machines to minimize vibration and noise.

The biggest advantage to being found in using this type of storage facility for your bicycle obviously has to be security. Your bike is safely stored out of the way, and out of the sight of potential thieves, thus leaving you able to go about your daily chores without the worry of having your bike stolen or damaged. These facilities also tend to be built in locations with the commuter in mind, so also have huge environmental benefits. The other positive aspect is that it keeps bikes from being chained up to lampposts and railings, which at times can cause a dangerous obstruction to pedestrians, or are at least an annoyance to non-cyclists.

Posted in: Storage World