Is this the new way to store bikes in the city?

By David Schout

You might have seen them abroad in cycle-friendly European cities, but could multi-storey bike parking towers be making their way to Melbourne?

The latest high-tech design by Smart Stackers is completely automated, and the company is keen to roll out its towers in busy end-of-destination areas like Southbank or the CBD.

The technology, developed in Prague, has been in use in Europe since 2012.

After a trip, cyclists can insert their bike at the opening of these towers, and the robotic system moves the bike to a free spot within the tower.

Since integration, there’s been zero break-ins or breakdowns.

One Smart Stackers Bike Tower houses more than 100 bicycles, in the space of around four car parking bays.

During 2020 the number of cyclists in Melbourne grew as locals sought a new leisure activity or socially-distanced way to get around.

And numbers are expected to continue rising throughout 2021 as people look to avoid growing congestion on the roads.

Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares said it was important for any large city to have safe end-of-trip facilities for cyclists.

“Bike sales have always been high but since the pandemic, they have sky-rocketed,” she said.

“We have the chance in 2021 to leverage this influx of interest and continue to encourage the use of bikes as a mode of transport by embracing a safe, accessible, hygienic, space-saving storage solution like Bike Towers.”

The towers also include space to store helmets, bags and child seats, in an environment that protects against the elements and theft.

The start-up is seeking local and state government support for its facilities and has pitched itself as a modern solution that supports active mobility, eases road congestion and promotes urban sustainability.

If approved it would seek to integrate the use of Myki cards for payment.

“We hope that through cities embracing this revolutionary end-of-trip facility, we can encourage more Australians to choose cycling as their main mode of transportation,” Smart Stackers CEO Rod McQueen said •

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