In 2014, Louise and Stephen Murphy founded a start-up company in County Carlow that would seek to revolutionise cycling security in a rapidly changing urban landscape. Cyc-Lok Ltd. is a completely enclosed, modular bike locker system with controlled access and the ability to charge ebikes. One unit contains twelve separate lockers and is entirely weather proof. It also prevents any third party members from viewing your bike or other possessions, ensuring that your possessions are safe while in the Cyc-lok system.
There is no denying the need for an improved bike security system like Cyc-lok, especially in Dublin. The city has seen a rise in cycling in recent years, as the 2016 census reported a 48% increase in the number of Dublin City residents who cycled to work. The city has launched numerous initiatives that show it is committed to making the city more liveable and reducing the excessive amount of pollution that comes from the car and public transit dominated streets.
However, these initiatives can only go so far when bike theft is so prominent in the country’s capital. In 2018, there were 3,929 reported stolen bikes. That is a rate of more than ten a day, and just 7% of those bikes were recovered. That figure falls below the 4,365 reported in 2017 and 4,436 in 2016, but the Central Statistic Office has found that the true number of stolen bikes is often three times what is actually reported. The stolen bicycles are also often high value, coming in at an average price of €510. That is an incredibly expensive loss to incur. Replacing the stolen bicycle makes it doubly expensive. The costs coming from the lack of a widespread cycle security infrastructure are enough to deter more and more people from cycling.
As these factors demonstrate, something must be done if Dublin truly wishes to become a smart city. Cyc-lok is the answer to Dublin’s bicycle theft problem. The first Cyc-lok unit was launched and installed in Dublin City Centre’s Pearse Station in November 2015, and another was later installed in Heuston station. Since then, the number of installed units has grown both domestically and abroad.
Available Cyc-Lok Units
Cyc-lok offers two purchase options: singular, personal purchase or Cyc-lok for business. Personal Cyc-lok lockers applies the security and protection of the larger unit to the needs of an individual cyclist. Whether the locker is installed at work or home, you know your bicycle and other cycling equipment is safe. Its wedge shaped footprint is only 2100mm x 760mm, so it takes up minimal space. For €1799, you can purchase the unit, have it delivered to your preferred location and installed by Cyc-lok staff. The unit is also weatherproof and impervious to outside viewing. You gain access to the unit with a personal code that can be entered into the keypad on the locker’s side. For the extent of service and protection provided, this locker is more than worth its price.
Cyc-lok for business includes a twelve locker unit that takes up the equivalent of one car park space when installed and benefits both the parking provider and the cyclists using it. Users can download the Cyc-lok app to book their lockers in advance at any Cyc-lok site, and a personalised pin will be delivered to you through email and text. Your code allows you to open the locker with the keypad located on the tower at the end of the unit. This storage system is also unique because it does not require a subscription fee; you only pay for the time you use. Less than one hour will cost you €1, one to three hours is €2 and three to twelve hours is €3. You can also stay past twelve hours since your pin remains valid until you retrieve your belongings.
Besides the obvious benefit of providing long-awaited secure bike parking, it is a self-managing and revenue generating way for businesses to encourage commuting to work. They can decrease their carbon footprint since the Cyc-lok system highlights sustainable transport. Additionally, this effectively reduces the need for overflow parking. Cyc-lok also offers a management console so that factors like usage and bike ownership can be tracked. Cyc-lok’s locker system is a smart cycling solution that truly improves the lives of everyone.
The company was recently featured in Smart Dublin’s Smart Pedal Pitch Challenge at the Velo-City 2019 cycling conference for its innovative approach to increasing cycle security. We had the pleasure of following up with Cyc-lok Director Louise Murphy about the company’s development process and approach to smart cycling, and here are her valuable insights.
CJ: What have the challenges been as you’ve developed your product and brought it to market?
LM: Once we had cemented the idea of our system and how we wanted it to be brought to market the challenge then was to find a good design partner which we found in Dolmen Design in Dublin. The next and the biggest challenge was the ‘educate the market’ piece. Cyclists are forced to accept that their bike will most probably be stolen/vandalised when they take it out to a public place, we believe that this should not be the case and that a product/service like Cyc-lok can negate theft and vandalism and can allow the cyclist the peace of mind to cycle and park securely at their destination. Now the challenge is convincing cycle parking providers to trust that our solution is the future and that Sheffield hoops/racks/stands and cages are a thing of the past and that the future lies in SMART IoT based solutions that encourage more people to cycle.
CJ: How did you and Cyc-Lok as a company adapt?
LM: We targeted countries that are further on in their thinking of ‘enabling more cycling’, we have installed in numerous sites in Norway and are rolling out to more European countries and the States that embrace the cyclist and put funding behind the growth of cycling infrastructure and the move to a more sustainable and liveable environment for us all.
CJ: What lessons did you learn/are you learning from developing your company?
LM: You need to adapt to what the market demands are hence we have partnered with a Californian company; Swiftmile to bring e-Scooter docking and charging stations to Europe. We are moving towards all things electric to include eBikes and eScooters. Our lockers can charge these PMD’s (personal mobility devices). We are trying to solve a problem when it comes to companies getting their staff to work in the most economical and most sustainable way. We provide the end to end service and not just the products. We do site surveys, take audits and recommend the best solutions for the client based on their space allocation, budgets and numbers they need to accommodate.
CJ: What advice can you give to someone seeking to open their own start-up?
LM: Research your market thoroughly, forecast 5 years in advance, be open to partnerships with other companies in your space (there’s room for us all!), hire a good accountant that understands your business and keep up with new technology advances in your field. Also, get funded early! There are lots of supports with your Local LEO office and they are very supportive.
CJ: What does the future hold for Cyc-Lok?
LM: We are currently embarking on a large rollout of units in private partnership in Ireland with a large retail store, a service station company and a commercial property developer. We are also finalising a deal with the biggest retail group in the USA, a global rollout for a large tech giant for their European and USA sites and we are expanding our reach in Scandinavia and the Nordics with a distributor partner. We also have designed the mark 3 prototype that will include facial recognition and a more advanced UX using new technology. Our vision is to create a safe and secure network of bike/PMD parking facilities that will enable more SMART and sustainable cities for us not just to pass through but to really ‘live‘ in.
For more information, please visit: www.cyc-lok.ie