In most cities, being a cyclist means you will have your vehicle stolen and/or vandalized on a semi-regular basis. That's just how it works. But in Tokyo, as Danny Choo shows us, your bike actually gets sucked down into an underground bike cavern, protected from the outside world.
The video above shows how this works: there are several (more to come) parking stations, made by a company called Giken, which look sort of like public bathrooms. But do not pee in them! Instead, stick your bike in them--your bike should have a little magnetic key, sort of like an EZ-Pass, that gives you access to park your bike. The doors clamp on your bike's front wheel, and your bike is lowered down into a big underground cylinder.
The machine files your bike away onto a little platform just for it. No need to lock it, since it's not like a thief can go down into the cylinder, and the fact that it's underground also protects it from vandalism and inclement weather. Each station can hold about 200 bikes.
Giken is looking to expand and built more stations. It seems like it takes up quite a bit of space underground--in cities where there's lots of stuff underground, including subway tunnels, it might be tricky to litter the city with the stations. But it's a pretty elegant system: secure, clean, and probably profitable.
[via Danny Choo (warning: site includes lots of picture of underdressed/naked anime dolls)]