UBCO thinks inside the (Bike)box

Paul Marck takes his bicycle out of a Bikebox locker at UBCO. The five Bikebox lockers currently on campus are rented out, but the university plans to order more as demand increases. - Douglas Farrow / Contributor
Paul Marck takes his bicycle out of a Bikebox locker at UBCO. The five Bikebox lockers currently on campus are rented out, but the university plans to order more as demand increases.
— image credit: Douglas Farrow / Contributor

The University of British Columbia Okanagan is combining its security technology with a Saskatchewan inventor's bike locker to create safe, secure and keyless parking spots for staff members' bicycles.

For four years UBCO has used the SALTO security system on its campus. SALTO Systems utilize keyless locks, which can be opened by an electronic card.

According to Tina Dolan, UBCO's administrator of SALTO Systems, the Okanagan university is SALTO's biggest user site in Canada.

"We're trying to become a keyless campus," said Dolan.

So it was only natural the university would try to adapt that technology to work with their newest set of bicycle lockers.

"The manufacturer worked with our locksmith and has adapted some of the mechanics of the locker to be modified to accept our keyless entry."

Bikebox Canada utilizes post consumer materials to create triangular sets of five lockers, which can fit easily into corners.

Its creator, Dean Gibson, said he invented the product because he was tired of his bicycles being vandalized or stolen.

According to him, so far Bikebox lockers have kept many bikes safe and "prevented over 20,000 pounds of plastic from entering the landfill."

The product's environmentally-friendly nature is one of the reasons UBCO has purchased 10 Bikeboxes to date—with plans to buy more as demand increases.

The five Bikeboxes currently on campus are located at the northeast corner of the Administration building. The other five will be placed outside the Health Sciences Centre once they are shipped to the university.

"We're trying to locate them strategically—near a building, preferably under cover," said Dolan.

Dolan noted the lockers are temporarily for staff use only.

"In the University Centre, students have the ability to arrange to have their bike locked up in a secure area within the building—they've already had that option for a couple of years.

"And in our new Engineering Management building, in one of the foyers in the back of the building, they set up an (enclosed) bike rack…so students have a few good options already."

If demand for Bikebox lockers increases, units could be potentially set up for student use in the future, said Dolan.

The cost for staff members to utilize the Bikebox lockers is $60 per year or $5 per month; the five units on campus are currently rented out.

Gibson said he's happy to see his creation being integrated with the SALTO System.

"This is a win-win situation all around, not only for our environment but for those cyclists that are apprehensive about leaving their bicycle unattended anywhere," said Gibson.

He noted UBCO is the first customer to automate the Bikebox units.

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