- Jersey City, New Jersey, is working on what it says is the nation’s first holistic network of secure bike parking after reaching an agreement with Brooklyn-based Oonee to install up to 30 protected lockers.
- Oonee will provide enclosed, locked facilities for bikes and scooters that can double as placemaking installations. For example, lockers located near bus stops can double as transit shelters by offering covered seating, said Barkha Patel, Jersey City director of transportation planning.
- The installations will be “integrated with other sustainable modes,” Patel said, with lockers situated near transit stops and areas where public events are held. "This will help us create a culture where people are willing to leave the car at home for a day because they know they can get around on more appealing options," she said.
As the popularity of cycling has boomed during the pandemic, many cities have boosted spending on bike infrastructure to capitalize on the trend. A recent report from StreetLight Data found that bike activity in major cities was up 10% compared to pre-pandemic levels; the report found that the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area rose from the 87th metro area in terms of bike ridership to 46th between July 2020 and July 2021.
Patel said that Jersey City has already taken significant steps to foster a cycling culture, including by building 6.7 miles of protected bike lanes, with another 2.7 miles planned, and even retrofitting street cleaning vehicles to be narrow enough to maintain bike lanes. But residents said they were concerned about the bike security, especially commuters who would be gone all day.
"We got a good sense of this during the development of our bicycle master plan in 2018 and 2019, asking questions about what is keeping people from cycling more often,” Patel said. "This issue really rose to the top, with people concerned about bike theft because they had heard about it or experienced it themselves. It made them not want to ride for certain trips when they’d be leaving the bike for a long time.”
According to data shared by Bike Index, a nonprofit that allows people to register and report stolen bikes, there have been 18,377 bikes reported as stolen on its service so far in 2021, along with 18,594 stolen in 2020. That represented a significant jump from the 11,378 reported stolen in 2019. Lily Williams, communications director for the group, noted that the data was only self-reported and "real numbers are presumably significantly higher than this."
A January 2021 report from New York-based Transportation Alternatives found that 95% of cyclists want more parking. "Placing bicycle parking near transit, businesses, schools and on every block will send a strong signal that biking is safe, effective and available for all New Yorkers," the group wrote, comparing parking to the “visual landmark” of Citi Bike stations.
Oonee in September announced the installation of 40 stations across New York and New Jersey by the end of 2022, with spaces for a total of 1,500 bikes. The company’s pods can be customized with features like green roofs, seating, lighting, custom cladding and digital screens for announcements and advertisements. The company also offers a pod designed to fit in a street parking space, utilizing existing infrastructure.
The company has also announced a partnership with the Equitable Commute Project to propose up to 14 pods to be installed in South Bronx communities for free in an effort to expand service to low-income and frontline essential workers.
For the Jersey City pilot, Oonee will install seven stations in three months at no cost to the city, while earning revenue from advertisements. Depending on revenue benchmarks, the network can be expanded to up to 30 stations, although Patel said the city could install even more, with an eye towards integrating them into the city’s existing mobility infrastructure network.
"This just speaks to the fact that we are thinking about bicycling from every angle," Patel said. "This is not a performative thing, this is something that we want to make succeed in every way over the years."