Tech Travel

Underground bicycle parking systems in Japan

The robotic system, called the Eco Cycle, stores bikes 36 feet underground. It can store 204 bikes at a time.

To use it, you need to attach a chip to the front wheel of your bike that links to your Eco Cycle parking account. When you pull up to the Eco Cycle, it will recognize you’re a paying customer. Simply press the button and your will be taken underground.

Bikes are so ubiquitous in Japan that construction company Giken had to build an underground system to store them.

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Culture Productivity & Work

Would you rather be late or on time?

(Un)Acceptable lateness (image via Clem Onojeghuo)

Can you coax a train out of a tunnel? Probably not, unless you’re Darth Vader or a magician.

America is the land where trains are prone to lateness. So we find things to do to fill in the gaps like passing the yellow line to “lean-and-look.”

In contrast, trains in Japan run on time. If it’s late, the train will write you a note to pass on to your employer. It’s no wonder it’s acceptable for Japanese business folks to fall asleep in meetings; they don’t get to take advantage of the public transportation’s mistakes.

Would you rather be late or on time?

Bonus: Read more why the American rail is so backward.


Why parking sucks 

no parking
GIF via abch

Parking signs are intentionally confusing, especially in the cities. Take a close look at the rules and exceptions on the parking signs, and you’ll see things like:

  • Zone 2 permit holders only
  • Express pick-up: 15 minutes only
  • Monday-Friday: 2:30PM – 4PM & 6:30PM – 10PM

First, you have to squint and read the sign and check for the exceptions; then you have to interpret the day and the time. Sometimes signs on top of signs: one for the 3-hour parking, one for 2-hour parking, and one for all day parking. Sometimes signs are fifty feet down the block, and you miss it. Holy shit. So you ultimately take your chances and risk getting towed.

In New York, parking is a tax. On top of that, the signs are ubiquitous and ambiguous, so people fear to park at all. Residents and visitors walk and take public transportation instead.

Cities don’t want people driving. Thankfully, self-driving cars are on the way to eliminate the self-doubt. Once cars start talking to other cars and pay machines, the madness will go away. But for now, parking sucks. And on top of that, some cities don’t want you there in the first place.

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Still frames of the cracked tiles and yellow light bulbs are broken up by close-ups of those waiting for the train: a man adjusting his wedding ring, the intense focus on a woman’s scarf just before a train comes speeding past her, billowing it up and away from her hair.

NYC Sub:Way Makes Morning Commute Look Beautiful


‘Thank you’ x200+

Imagine saying that to every ticket holder on the train. Every day.

The main reason train conductors say ‘Thank you’ is not only to show they care (although you could argue it’s desultory) but also to mentally check a passenger off the list. It also triggers the passenger to put away their ticket. Relief.

They say to practice speech in front of a mirror for a reason. We remember what we say better than what we think, more so than inner monologue. But we really remember our lines when we speak with emotion, as do others when we say it to them.

That’s why the monotone ‘Thank you’ is such a practical and word, a paradox rife with boredom.