Since car parks have already taken up a major share of the real estate adjacent to mass transit, space that can be used for cycling infrastructure is less and does come at a premium. To help broaden the bicycling infrastructure in a busy city, Eric Birkhauser, has conceptualized the HELIOtrope – a bicycle storage facility that also recharges the batteries of e-bikes while they are parked.
Designed to serve as a highly visible urban landmark, the HELIOtrope also functions as a grid-tied urban micro power station. Energy generation is linked over the rail through induction to batteries powering the electric assist bicycles. The infrastructure is loaded with photovoltaic cells that generate all the energy the facility requires to recharge batteries. When the structure is empty or the batteries of all the e-bikes are fully charged, renewable electricity is delivered to the surrounding grid.
Taking up the shape of a ubiquitous street tree, the elliptical facility is not dissimilar to the rim of a bicycle. The rim is held in tension by a membrane and the kinetic nature of the shuffling of bicycles across the spine in a slow but continuous rotation, allows the facility to follow the movement of the sun to generate maximum amount of energy.