NYC seeks to build 500 secure bike parking hubs across city

Bike parking hub inside
The city is seeking a vendor to operate 500 secure bike parking hubs across the five boroughs.
File Photo by Ben Brachfeld

New York City is moving the pedals on building 500 hubs for secure bicycle parking across the city over the next five years.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has opened a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a vendor to operate the network of secure bike parking spots, which officials contend would boost urban cycling by assuaging fears of bike theft.

“With record bike ridership and an all-time high number of protected bike lanes, New York City is experiencing a booming cycling renaissance,” DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said in a statement. “This initiative will support continued growth in cycling by addressing a key barrier to bike ownership: the lack of access to secure bike storage.”

Thousands of bikes are stolen off the streets every year in the city, and only a minuscule number of those are ever recovered by police. In a 2018 survey that the DOT and PSB Insights had conducted, 26% of New Yorkers reported having a bike stolen from them or a member of their household.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers gave poor grades to the city’s secure bike parking infrastructure in last year’s statewide Cycling Census, an average of 1.54 out of 5 stars. The city’s public bike parking infrastructure mainly consists of racks on the street (installed by request) where riders must snugly lock their two-wheelers to deter thieves.

Oonee’s bike parking pod at Hudson Square in Lower Manhattan.PANYNJ
A rendering of Oonee Minis, capable of holding six-20 bikes.Oonee

In its solicitation, the DOT says interested vendors should present a plan to improve secure bike parking near transit hubs; include built-in options for accommodating e-bikes and cargo bikes; potentially incorporate e-bike charging; and offer long-term storage options in residential areas.

The agency says it has plans to install enclosed, lockable curbside hubs in various sizes, with space for 10-12 bikes in residential areas while those near transit hubs and commercial areas would serve more bikes and feature charging infrastructure. Also on the table are large, Citi Bike-esque “self-locking racks” where people can store their bikes.

The announcement comes after several years of pilot demonstrations from Brooklyn-based startup Oonee, which operates bike parking hubs outside Atlantic Terminal, Port Authority Bus Terminal, the Holland Tunnel, and Grand Central. The company also has contracts to operate bike parking networks in Jersey City and Minneapolis.

Oonee’s hubs are free to use and are funded by advertising outside the structures. Speaking with amNewYork Metro, Oonee CEO Shabazz Stuart said the RFP was “a dream come true” and hopes his company can be selected for the contract.

“We have sought to show elected officials, civic leaders, and community leaders that this kind of program could be scalable and viable. And now we have the opportunity to do just that,” said Stuart. “No matter what happens next, to have the nation’s biggest city to come out and say secure bike parking and charging facilities have to be part of the ecosystem is not just gonna change New York, it’s gonna change the world.”