Oonee — Creating a Network of Secure Bike Parking

By: Joel Epstein

Oonee bike pod at Atlantic Terminal in downtown Brooklyn (Photo by Shabazz Stuart).

I want to talk about something more mundane than the universal peaceful protests against systemic racism and police brutality. As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, New York needs secure bike parking. With their renewed popularity as a subway and bus alternative, bikes have become as precious as Purell and toilet paper were back in March. And bikes locked overnight to a New York City lamp post just don’t deter the determined bike thief or vandal.

Lock It Up!

Recently, I posted on Twitter about the hassle of carrying my bike up and down four flights of stairs from my apartment.

The tweet brought this response from Shabazz Stuart at Oonee.

How good it feels to know someone is reading. Stuart is the founder and CEO of Oonee and he is on to something. Now if he can only move the New York City Council, Mayor’s office, Community Boards and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to join hands in creating a network of Oonee pods throughout the five boroughs we will be all set.

While biking and walking have always been my go-to means of transportation around the City, the Covid-19 pandemic has for now cut to zero my transit ridership. And though I am back on Citibike after a three month hiatus and am grateful it has finally come to my Upper Manhattan ‘hood, when I bike these days it is usually on my own two wheels.

In these times it is hard to think about anything other than black men killed by police and the urgency of a till-now lacking competent response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But today is also the time to plan for and implement strategies that can help make car-free urban living easier. Oonee’s bike storage pods are a critical piece of the urban transportation playbook and the time is now to plant them all over New York.

New York needs safe and secure bike parking throughout the City (Photo by Shabazz Stuart).

Why are these easy to assemble bike sheds supported by tasteful advertising and services like phone charging stations so important to me? Because I don’t yet have bike storage in my building and the four flights of stairs to my door aren’t getting any shorter. It’s quite personal. Secure bike parking isn’t just about a new Department of Transportation bike rack near my apartment in Sugar Hill. It’s about having convenient, safe and secure bike pods like Oonee has rolled out in downtown Brooklyn and Jersey City in neighborhoods like mine where most buildings don’t have bike rooms.

Ed Janoff is a New York-based planner and nonprofit manager specializing in transportation and open space. Janoff, who co-authored the NYC Street Design Manual (2009) and Jersey City Bikeway Design Guide (2019), explains that “bike pods and other public long-term storage options should be seen as a critical ingredient in any city’s recipe for bike-friendliness. They cater to residents, commuters, travelers and shoppers who don’t have access to secure indoor parking but are willing to walk a bit further or spend a small amount on that service.”

What makes bike pods so precious is the peace of mind they offer — knowing that if you bike to a shopping district or train station, your bike can be safely stored and will be waiting for you clean and dry when you return. Explains Janoff, “As anyone in the hospitality industry can tell you, it only takes a small inconvenience to turn off a large percentage of customers. Just like a coat check in a restaurant or a bag room in a hotel (remember both?), having a bike pod available is that extra level of convenience that can make a difference to potential ‘customers’ for a city’s bike network.”

I recently banged myself up pretty badly in a solo bike accident on Broadway at 63rd Street. Remind me again why New York City taxpayers are paying the NYPD to shut down Central Park West and its protected bike lane to put distance between IQ45’s hotel at Columbus Circle and peaceful protesters? Not to mention the battalion of police and now-permanent barricades at the hater in chief’s other eyesores throughout the City.

Post-op in my boxing gloves.

But I digress. Sign me up. Oonee means convenience. Like complete streets, protected bike lanes, Citibike and safe, clean transit, we need their bike pods throughout the City.

Yours in transit,

Joel

#bikeinfrastructure #blacklivesmatter #BLM #brooklyn #centralparkwest #citibike #cities #columbuscircle #completestreets #covid19 #edjanoff #IQ45 #MTA #newyorkcity #newurbanism #NYC #NYCDOT #NYPD #oonee #peacefulprotests #policebrutality #publicspace #purell #racism #shabazzstuart #sugarhill #toiletpaper #transit #trumpvirus #twitter

Joel Epstein is a New Yorker and an advocate for public transit, livable cities and public space.

A walker in the city.

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