Back in 2016, I bet it all on urban secure bike parking–specifically the notion that this was the next “big” amenity for urban streetscapes. Lots of people thought I was crazy, some still do, but recent industry developments and trends have only increased my confidence. The company I founded, Oonee, has created the first modular, smart bike parking kiosk that can be scaled in cities. We envision a vast infrastructure network that offers secure bike parking, as well as other services and amenities.
Below is a quick look at some of the dominant trends in today’s market along with some basic commentary on why the planets are continuing to align for this opportunity, especially for sponsors and marketers.
Cycling is poised to become a dominant mode of urban transportation in the United States. Since 2000, most major American cities have seen triple digit percentage increases in cycling trips; here in New York, the nation’s largest metropolis, cycling daily trips are increasing 11.2% every year. Similar trends are unfolding in Boston, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Yet, as cities invest in better roadway infrastructure and bikeshare, secure parking option have largely been ignored, leaving a major pain-point in the urban cycling experience. Surveys have shown that about 50% of current cyclists have experienced bike theft, while large numbers of commuters suggest that the lack of secure parking infrastructure is a key deterrent to choosing bicycles over other modes of transportation.
This week we officially raised the curtain on Oonee, a patent-pending pod that provides both secure bicycle parking and public space amenities. Oonee is designed to combine a modern, industrial design ethic with unparalleled opportunities for customization through a smart, modular framework.
In creating Oonee, we sought to craft an experience for everyone; cyclists, as well as those who’re just walking by or hanging out. Through a lengthy, iterative process, our project incorporated feedback from a variety of local stakeholder groups–including cyclists, residents, property owners, policy experts and business leaders.
Verdict: New York’s much maligned Metropolitan Transportation Authority has quietly, and cost effectively, completed impressive transformations of three stations along Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue Line. With a few caveats, I feel fairly confident suggesting that these renovations be replicated throughout the rest of the system.
The loss of Gothamist and DNAInfo this week is difficult to fully fathom. Launched in 2003, Gothamist heralded the emergence of a new generation of hyper-local news reporting in New York City. The blog soon spawned offshoots in major cities across the country, and then the globe. Other sites including Patch and DNAInfo soon followed, their reporting filling in a crucial niche as more traditional outlets either went out of business or dramatically cut back on local coverage. Early this year, Gothamist and DNAinfo completed a merger in an attempt to make the business model more sustainable.
Yet, this week, but outlets were abruptly and callously shuttered, and their staff dismissed.
Elon Musk is a very smart man.
The billionaire entrepreneur has spawned several successful companies, including Tesla and Space-X. He’s widely recognized as one of the visionaries in today’s tech landscape, with many putting him on-par with the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
Given this, it’s a bit odd to see Musk so aggressively market the Hyperloop, a concept that has not been built, or really tested, anywhere in the world. Yet, Musk set the Twitterverse on fire, by tweeting that he had received “verbal approval” for building a “Hyperloop” between New York and Washington. According to Musk, the new transportation option would allow passengers to travel between the two cities in just 29 minutes (compared with 3 ½ hours today). He claims, and has claimed in the past, that construction will commence soon and will be far cheaper and more cost effective than high speed rail travel. He has even gone so far as to draw comparison with high speed rail efforts that are underway today, seeing these as a waste of time and money.
Last weekend, the MTA’s recent struggles went national when the Mayor of Chicago, published a Monday New York Times Op-Ed entitled “In Chicago, The Trains Actually Run on Time.” The haughty, headline of Emanuel’s opine earned a swift backlash from New York’s press and many ordinary citizens. New Yorkers may hate the MTA, but it’s our MTA! Beneath all of the noise, there was a rare, thoughtful and prominent critique of urban mass transit best practices.
For me, many of Emanuel’s argument’s resonated, while other’s didn’t.