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Secure bike pod opening at Journal Square PATH station

The Record, Bergen County logo The Record, Bergen County 9/5/2019 Colleen Wilson, North Jersey Record

A new parking lot has arrived at the Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City — but it's only for bikes.

The secure pod unveiled Wednesday  fits 20 bicycles in a sustainable box complete with a green roof of plants, powered by solar panels and LED lighting.

The structure is a product of Oonee, a Brooklyn-based start-up company that partnered with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to install the first-of-its-kind bike station in the area.

a sign on the side of the street: A new, secure bike rack was unveiled at Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City on Sept. 4, 2019.© Colleen Wilson A new, secure bike rack was unveiled at Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City on Sept. 4, 2019.

"If we're going to create a future where transportation alternatives can thrive and can operate successfully with our motor vehicle cousins, then we need to create a future where bikes and scooters are not second-class citizens on our streetscape," said Shabazz Stuart, Oonee founder and CEO. "And that means creating infrastructure, where bikes and scooters are alongside cars, that are sexy."

Clarelle DeGraffe, director of PATH for the Port Authority, hopes this helps to meet the needs of customers who ride their bikes to the station and take the train to work.

More: Man stopped by police while riding PATH train with two axes was just going to work

"I'm excited and the reason I'm excited is that it's not just some infrastructure plopped on our (property)," DeGraffe said. "It really seems to weave itself into the community and speaks to the people, it's very welcoming so that's what I'm excited about."

a row of parked motorcycles sitting on the side of a building: The existing bike racks at Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City are packed, and susceptible to theft or damage.© Colleen Wilson The existing bike racks at Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City are packed, and susceptible to theft or damage.

The pod is on the sidewalk near the Journal Square market, visible from JFK Boulevard, which was a selling point for Patrick Conlon, president of the local nonprofit Bike JC.

"The location of this pod is great, it's visible yet it's not taking up space that was really used much for pedestrians," Conlon said. "The footprint is really not much more than a single parking space for maybe one four-wheel vehicle but in here we can put 20 two-wheel vehicles — we like 20 over one."

Five people already signed up to use the pod, which members can access by swiping a code from their smartphone to unlock the box, or using a key fob.

More: Ports Master Plan charts path to keep up record growth despite climate challenges

The box's use will be free through spring 2020; after that, it will cost $2 per month. The membership, however, does not guarantee riders a spot. They are available on a first come, first serve basis. 

This is a chief concern for Norberto Simpataco, who has been riding his bike in Jersey City for 10 years.

a row of bikes parked in front of a building: The existing bike racks at Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City are packed, and susceptible to theft or damage.© Colleen Wilson The existing bike racks at Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City are packed, and susceptible to theft or damage.

“It’d be a great concept if it was a larger volume,” Simpataco said, but added that he would be wary if there were too many bicycles in that small space. "If there’s a thousand bikes, my bike is getting dinged up, banged up." 

But the idea of a safe bike haven was intriguing.

"Jersey City is a two-bike place for me, I got a nice bike and I got a junk bike," he said, adding that in the past he's had tires stolen and other damage to his bicycle while it was parked at Journal Square.

Currently, there are several large, traditional bike racks in the Journal Square plaza, in which one tire can be locked to the metal structure, leaving the other exposed. On Wednesday afternoon, they were packed.

"As you can imagine this has liability issues, we need to see what happens with the first 20," DeGraffe said. "We think it’s intuitive, that it would pick up since we do have a cyclist population around here, but it’s almost like a pilot program, we'll see how it goes."

This article originally appeared on North Jersey Record: Secure bike pod opening at Journal Square PATH station

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