Spanish company Novatecnic is best known for its underground street garbage bin solutions in Spanish cities. What does that have to do with bikes, you ask? So glad you did, because the company is working on a new concept at the moment called Novality. While it’s primarily aimed at bicyclists, potential applications that Novatecnic mentions include electric scooters, and it’s not hard to imagine how electric bikes could also enter the mix, as well.
The concept is effectively a parking structure that you summon up to street level at the push of a button, with only about a 10-second wait time. Each pod features individual units where you can stash your bicycle or electric scooter securely. After it’s securely stowed and locked, the entire cube sinks back underground, until the top is level with the sidewalk. Both people and vehicles are then free to move over the top of the parking unit, with your vehicle stowed safely underground until you use the handy electronic pedestal to call it back up so you can be on your way.
For anyone familiar with street parking systems that use a single electronic meter to take credit card payments and log license plates of all vehicles parked on a single block, the pedestal for Novality units should look pretty familiar. It’s a neat solution to create additional parking in areas where street parking may be scarce, but there’s even more to it than that.
According to Novatecnic, Novality slots will also have space to store your helmet and gear along with your bike. If that’s not cool enough, they’ll be able to offer electric charge points so your electric scoot can charge while it’s securely parked. It’s sounding better and better all the time, honestly.
Since Novality is aimed at urban sustainability and carbon reduction, there’s no mention of similar systems reconfigured for piston bikes, or even full-sized electric motorcycles. While it isn’t hard to imagine how such an alteration could be made, especially since Novatecnic mentions that this is a “scaleable concept,” it’s also not something the company has made any mention of pursuing.
How practical this idea is will inevitably depend on what kind of underground infrastructure is already present in any given urban area, of course. I’m no urban planner, but when I was a kid walking around in downtown Chicago, I remember being unreasonably scared of the gigantic metal grates that took up large sections of the sidewalk on many blocks in the Loop. They seemed to go down into unending darkness, and you could often feel air rising up out of them. There’s obviously something utilizing that area immediately beneath the surface, and it’s probably not immediately evident how true this is elsewhere in the area, as well. With that in mind, how much space is available for a structure like this?
How well Novality would work will depend on a lot of factors, not the least of which is whether the company ends up deeming it feasible to move forward beyond the concept stage. Even if this isn’t its final form, it’s a neat idea with a lot of potential, and I hope something comes of it, even if it isn’t somewhere that I can personally use it.