“It’s three degrees, wet, dark and cold in Tallinn today, but that doesn’t faze me,” says Kristjan, extolling the benefits of city cycling as he chats about Bikeep, an Estonian start-up focused on smart features in mobility. Kristjan is a firm believer in cycling, for himself, for the community, for public health and the environment. As CEO at Bikeep, he combines his passion for cycling with earning his living.
The Growth of Cycling
There’s good news for those who hope to see continued growth in cycling in cities. Last year, bike sales shot up dramatically, right across the continent. Kristjan detects a trend away from cars, and believes that e-cycling enabled by smart features will expand widely this decade. “Changing transport preferences must happen, as electric bicycles and scooters are beginning to proliferate across cities.”
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The Business of Mobility is a series of articles by business leaders in sustainable mobility.
Problems with micro mobility
Active mobility is growing because of its positive effects. But there’s also the problem of increased rider numbers and parking for their vehicles. Cyclists, especially those with high-end electric bikes, are worried about parking an unattended investment. Short range e-scooters need a secure and convenient parking station to lock and charge. Pedestrians don’t want pavements cluttered with parked bicycles or scooters.
Smart parking lots
Kristjan has the answer to problems of storage and security. “We provide a safe place where you can store and recharge your bike.” Bikeep, with its public and private bicycle garages enabled by smart features, offers protection from damage and theft. Its solar-powered locking and charging stations can be set up so that access is by an app or an access card. Bikeep has tailored micro mobility solutions for municipalities, transit companies, and commercial and residential properties.
Bikeep’s other focus is innovation. It uses IoT connectivity to control, troubleshoot and secure bikes at its parking stations. The firm monitors active mobility infrastructure and does service management. All its main products can be integrated with other apps.
Accompanying its suite of bike racks and parking systems is an open
API. Any programmer can use the API to visualise use of bike infrastructure in a city. Kristjan says that city vehicles are changing, and infrastructure is growing “smarter”. Bikeep’s API smart features “can facilitate better exchanges between the city and the community.” Bikeep’s infrastructure is tied to an “open mobility as a service” platform, so anyone can access data about the use of its services. A connected campus, private estate or city can take this data to pilot new ideas, without spending huge amounts of time or money. For example:
- Data about bike use can be tied to a transport dashboard.
- Cities can manage unclaimed bikes by printing out a report showing which bikes have been abandoned.
- Biking stations’ usage data can show parking capacity in real time.
- Communication with cyclists is possible via a phone app with personalized micro mobility news.
Bikeep is more than a convenient and secure way to park scooters and cycles in common spaces. Its readily available data can be used to address micro mobility pain points. Transport planning can benefit. Kristjan thinks that if regulators want to make the micro mobility ecosystem work, they could benefit from Bikeep’s API. Bikeep can make its smart features available to bike infrastructure builders through plug-and-play smart units. So if you are building micro mobility parking facilities, Bikeep can make them smart.
A human-centred future
Cities are changing from serving the needs of the internal combustion engine, to putting humans first. Bikeep is an ally to cyclists and cities, making sure that riders and their vehicles are safe, while assisting the collective to explore new technologies and solutions for micro mobility.
There’s the comfort of knowing that your all-weather ride is not a solitary effort. That your contributed energies work to improve shared urban spaces. That the anonymized data from your vehicle use contributes to improving an integrated urban transport system. Such convenience and comfort has been available to car drivers for years. It is time the same smart features are open for scooter or bicycle riders.