Here’s an interesting idea: What if you could get a few thousand of your closest friends to each contribute $3 for a chance at secure bike parking in your city?
That’s the idea behind Bindio (pronounced “bind ee oh”), a startup housed at a Baltic tech incubator in Riga, Latvia.
Bindio has piloted a system of posts with heavy-duty 3.2 kg chains to secure bikes in the Latvian capital. Users secure and release the locks using a smartphone app, a little bit like a bike share kiosk.
Bike parking like this allows you as a cyclist to secure your bike without having to carry a lock around. It’s still up to you, of course, to correctly lock your bike so you don’t lose your rear wheel, seatpost, handlebars and accessories.
This crowdsourcing campaign is a little different from the usual “pre-pay for your unique product” Kickstarter. $3 buys you a vote to have Bindio racks installed in your city should the campaign succeed. They bet that you’ll bet to win, and perhaps they hope for some regional competition a bit like cities sweetening the pot with cash incentives to bring the Olympics to town. Paying above and beyond buys you additional votes.
If you want, you can also buy a complete Bindio kit for $1620. This includes a master control unit, a bicycle dock with two locks, and a pole. Shipping to the USA is an extra $150, and installation is your responsibility.
Readers of Cyclelicious are already asking “What about people without smartphones and bank cards?” The existing solution of carrying your own lock still exists, of course. The BikeLink program of using a reloadable smart card to accommodate those who use cash only hasn’t exactly taken off in the Bay Area and in Santa Cruz (more on this below).
Learn more about this product and campaign at Kickstarter: Bindio: The smartest, most secure bike parking stand.
Santa Cruz California and BikeLink lockers
I’ve written on these pages before about the BikeLink electronic bike lockers available in downtown Santa Cruz, California, at VTA park-and-ride lots and a few other locations around the San Francisco Bay Area. Unlike most bike lockers, these shared use lockers can be used by multiple people in the same way public parking is shared by multiple people. You use a smart card to open the locker.
I’m a big fan of these lockers, but they’re not heavily utilized in spite of their advantages. Obtaining a BikeLink card in the first place seems to be the biggest hurdle to use. The process doesn’t seem especially burdensome, but it’s apparently enough that very few people use these lockers.
The city of Santa Cruz pays $12,000 annually for maintenance and operation. Because of the poor usage, they’re looking into other systems that are easier to use for the casual user. They’d like to know if bike lockers are available that can take bank cards or mobile phones for payment. Does anyone know of elockers like BikeLink with more flexible payment options?