How bike parking pods could improve America’s cities for cyclists
But the company’s mission is also to correct inequalities in the world of cycling, says Stuart. Bicycles are often seen as gear for gentrifiers, especially upper-class white professionals. But those with the lowest incomes are the most likely to rely on bikes to get around, and they’re also much more likely to face economic hardship if their ride is stolen.
“This misunderstanding of who relies on the bicycle for transportation carries over to where we are today with a lack of compelling, compelling infrastructure to support cycling,” says Stuart, who is black. He says he intentionally tried to staff Oonee in a way that reflects the demographics of the city and its riders.
Oonee is still in its infancy, with around 4,000 users spread across a handful of pods in New York and Jersey City, just across the Hudson River. The contingent of dedicated users is smaller; Stuart says that about 10% of members account for 90% of usage. But the stage is set for growth: the company already has plans to improve its geographic coverage, with nine more full-size pods as well as dozens of smaller ones called “Minis”, which can hold up to 10 bikes.
There is currently a larger opportunity to make protected bicycle parking a norm in American cities, Stuart says. “The average person is socialized to bike share, but 15 years ago that wasn’t the case,” he says. “We will raise the bar. Cyclists are going to say, ‘Why isn’t this in my town?’ »