BICYCLE PARKING STRUCTURE
The present invention relates to a bicycle parking structure.
A bicycle parking structure, called bike tree, is shown in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcSD5MsQuVo&feature=player_embedded. This structure comprises a frustoconical platform, a central column mounted on said frustoconical platform and a multiplicity of devices for automatically lifting and lowering bicycles by gripping their front wheel in order that a bicycle moves from a horizontal position to a vertical one, and vice versa.
Such a structure is intended primarily for private bicycle parking, the bicycles being raised off the ground to a height that can not be reached without a ladder or the like. In the above YouTube video the bicycle parking structure is compared with a normal rack to which a bicycle is fastened by chain and lock. It is clear that the above bicycle parking structure is provided as a valid alternative to a conventional anti- theft protection. For this purpose, the central column is high enough to discourage thieves. However, a high column requires a large amount of construction material, and a non-negligible work time for the bicycle lifting and lowering device. The connection of such a device to the bicycle is achieved by a hook which engages the rim of the front wheel of the bicycle. The connecting operation is not particularly easy, as one can clearly see in the above video. Further, only on the top of its central column the bicycle parking structure has a cover that partially protects the bicycles from the elements or vandalism.
DE 196 21 222 Al, EP 0 677 628 Al and EP 0 686 546 Al disclose bicycle parking structure. In particular, DE 196 21 222 Al describes a bicycle parking structure, comprising a platform, a central column mounted on the platform and a multiplicity of devices for automatically lifting and lowering bicycles by means of their front wheel in corresponding bicycle parking sectors, so that a bicycle moves from a horizontal position to a vertical one and vice versa, in which the platform is rotatable
by means of bearings on a base. Each automatic lifting and lowering device comprises a worm screw, an upright parallel to the worm screw, and bicycle front wheel supporting means having a movable element provided with a nut screw engaging said worm screw, and with a sleeve sliding in the upright.
However, no provision is made in DE 196 21 222 Al for moving a bicycle from a horizontal position to a vertical one, and vice versa. In fact, the bicycle front wheel supporting means is constituted by a movable shoe, and bicycle rear wheel supporting means is constituted by a fixed shoe. The bicycle must be hand held by a user that has to support the front wheel on the movable shoe, wait for the lifting of the movable shoe by the lifting and lowering device and, at the end of the lifting of the movable shoe, support the rear wheel on the fixed shoe. The above described procedure is forced by the fact that the fixed shoe is shaped curved, clearly for holding the bicycle once the front wheel is lifted by the lifting and lowering device. It is evident that the bicycle is not placed vertically in the parking structure. In addition, the bicycle parking structure according to DE 196 21 222 Al does not allow an automatic positioning of the bicycle.
The bicycle parking structure as described in EP 0677628 Al provides that the front wheel does not rest on the ground on a movable shoe, but is caught by a hook for its lift. Therefore, the lift is not automatic.
Also the bicycle parking structure as described in EP 0686546 Al does not provide for an automatic lifting of the bicycle, nor the vertical positioning thereof.
Disclosure of the Invention
The present invention aims to overcome drawbacks of the above-mentioned bicycle parking structures.
In particular, one object of the invention is to provide a bicycle parking structure that gives greater effectiveness in theft protection with respect to prior art bicycle parking structure.
Another object of the invention is to provide a bicycle parking structure that is effective to protect the bicycle from external elements.
A further object is to provide a bicycle parking structure that reduces the time needed for parking and withdrawal a bicycle.
Yet another object of the invention is to provide a bicycle parking structure that is suitable for parking private bicycles as well as public bicycles.
Moreover, an object of the invention is to provide a bicycle parking structure that is transportable as a whole from one place to another, without any need of installation and disassembly works.
Another object of the invention is to provide a bicycle parking structure that allows a higher number of bicycles to be positioned with respect to the current bike sharing systems or traditional parking.
The mentioned technical task and the specified objects are substantially achieved by a bicycle parking structure, comprising technical features set forth in one or more of the appended claims.
Brief Description of Drawings
Further features and advantages of the present invention will be most clear from the indicative and therefore non limiting description of a preferred but not exclusive embodiment of a bicycle parking structure as illustrated by the accompanying drawings in which:
Figure 1 is a side view of the bicycle parking structure, whose interior as seen in transparency includes a bicycle as shown in two parking moments thereof;
- Figure 2 is a central vertical cross-section view of the bicycle parking structure in Figure 1 ;
- Figure 3 is a perspective view of the bicycle parking structure in Figure 1 without a cover;
Figure 4 is an enlarged perspective view of a detail of Figure 3; and
Figure 5 is a top plan view of the bicycle parking structure in Figure 3.
Description of an Embodiment of the Invention
First, reference is made to Figures 1 and 2 which are a side view and a central vertical cross-section view, respectively, of the bicycle parking structure according to the present invention. The bicycle parking structure comprises a frustonical platform indicated as 1 and a central column 2 fixed to the frustoconical platform 1. The frustoconical platform 1 is rotatable on a base 3. In particular, as shown in
Figure 2, the central column 2 protrudes in a compartment 4 formed inside the base
3, with a spindle 5 being integral with the central column 2 and rotatable on bearings 6. The spindle 5 is connected through gears to a gear motor 7 housed in the compartment 4. The spindle 5 and the gear motor 7 are not described in detail as they are conventional.
Peripheral to the base 3 and integral therewith is a perimeter wall 8 that is, in particular, cylindrical and provided with an aperture 9 closed by a door 10. The door 10 may be of the type having one or two elements sliding on the wall 8 and being shaped like it. The door 10, as discussed below, enables the controlled passage of bicycles 1 1 through the aperture 9 one by one.
A cover 12 fixed to the perimeter wall 8 has an inclined cap 13 that is lined at the top by photovoltaic panels 14. The lined cap 13 is mounted on the cover 12 in order to optimize the absorption of solar energy by the photovoltaic panels. An electric power generation system, not shown in detail, is connected to the photovoltaic panels 14 and provides sockets 15 on the perimeter wall 8.
Integral with the central column 2 at the top is a support plate 16 rotatably inserted on the cover 12. The support plate 16 carries angularly equidistant electric motors generically indicated as 17. The electric motors 17 are part of individual devices for automatically lifting and lowering bicycles installed in parking sectors n for the same. Each automatic lifting and lowering device comprises a worm screw 18 driven by a respective electric motor 17 mounted on the support plate 16 as mentioned above, and also, an upright 19 fixed between the upper base 20 of the frustoconical platform 1 and the plate support 16. Each worm screw 18, which is driven by respective electric motor 17, passes through the support plate 16 and is rotatably mounted on a bearing at its lower end 21. Each automatic lifting and lowering device further comprises supporting means 22 for the front hub of the bicycle 1 1 , as shown in the perspective view of Figure 3, in which the cover 12 is absent, and, in particular, in the enlarged detail of Figure 4, where, for clarity sake, only a supporting means 22 is shown.
The supporting means 22 comprises a movable element 23 including a plate arranged vertically and shaped like an inverted rectangular triangle. In its base vertex between cathetus and hypotenusa, the plate has a nut screw 24 engaging the
worm screw 18 whose thread is partially and schematically shown. On the cathetus of the rectangular triangle opposite to the vertex where is the nut screw 24, the plate has a bushing 25 sliding in the upright 19. The worm screw 18 and the upright 19 of a same automatic lifting and lowering device have axes yl and y2, respectively, lying in a same non-radial plane.
The bushing 25 has a flat outer face 26 on which a support element 27 shaped as a truncated V is fastened, being formed by a pair of brackets 28, 28 that are symmetrical with respect to a vertical radial plane containing the axis y2 of the upright 19. Thus, the brackets 28, 28, which are laterally reinforced by a rib 29, are mirror shaped. From outside inwards, each bracket 28 has a first converging section 30 towards said vertical radial plane containing the axis y2, a second section 31 extending substantially parallel to the vertical radial plane, a third converging section 32 and an end section 33. The second section 31 of each bracket 28 is shaped at the top with a recess 34 intended to receive one end of a hub 35 of the front wheel of a bicycle 11.
As best shown in Figures 3 and 5, which are a perspective view and a plan view, respectively, of the bicycle parking structure according to the present invention, guide channels generically indicated as 36 for guiding the wheels of the bicycle are mounted radially integral with the frustoconical platform 1 and, therefore, rotatable therewith. An axis x of the guide channels 36 is lying in the radial plane containing the axis y2 of an upright 19. Only in correspondence of the aperture 9 of the door 10 in the wall 8, the guide channel 36 has a fixed channel 37 integral with the base 3 extending further into a chute 38.
Advantageously, the guide channel 36 has a bottom cushioned by springs, but this is not shown in detail.
Provided on the frustoconical platform 1 are detectable references 39 equidistantly fixed in a facing position on an outer circumferential surface 40 of the frustoconical platform 1. A sensor 41 is fixed on the base 3 in a position facing the outer circumferential surface 40 of the frustoconical platform 1 in order to detect the position of the various bicycle parking sectors n. The sensor 41 is connected to a control unit (not shown) adapted to rotate the frustoconical platform 1 which is
connected to the central column 2, where the spindle 5 being rotatable on the bearings 6 is connected through gears to a gear motor 7 housed in the compartment 4 of the base 3, as described above.
In this way the sector n concerned for the parking or removal of a bicycle is brought behind the aperture 9 of the perimeter wall 8.
Advantageously, the door 10, whose operation is controlled by the same control unit that controls the rotation of the frustoconical platform 1 , is constituted by at least one sliding cylindrical element shaped like the perimeter wall 8, which is openable upon consent received after confirmation of an access right.
As mentioned above, the bicycle parking structure according to the present invention can be completely autonomous for its operation by the electric power generation system comprising the photovoltaic panels 14 mounted on the cover 12. Other parts of the electric power generation system are traditional and are not described in detail, nor shown in the figures. The sockets 15 provided on the outer wall 8 can be used to recharge batteries of electrically assisted bicycles.
The above described bicycle parking structure can be adapted for parking private bicycles as well as for safekeeping public bicycles to be shared. A user who wants to park a bicycle 1 1 is provided with a title, such as a card or an identity document, for using the bicycle parking structure. Once the user is identified by a verification device mounted on the wall of the bicycle parking structure, the frustoconical platform 1 is rotated so as to bring a free sector n behind the door 10 having one or two sliding elements. The control unit permits the door 10 to be opened and allows the user who has already positioned the front wheel of the bicycle 1 1 on the chute 38 to bring the bicycle beyond the wall 8 of the bicycle parking structure, and advance it on the fixed channel 37 of the base 3 and later on the guide channel 36 of the assigned sector. The user uses also the sprung bottom of the guide channel 36 to verify the presence of a bicycle, and places the ends of the hub 35 of the front wheel of the bicycle 1 1 in the recesses 34 of the brackets 28, 28 of the truncated V-shaped support element 27 of the lifting and lowering device according to the invention. After a sensor not described in detail has detected the correct position of the bicycle, the control unit puts in action the respective motor 17 of the lifting and lowering
device that, by rotating the worm screw 18, raises the nut screw 24 of the movable element 23 guided along the upright 19. The movable element 23 lifts the joined support element 27 towards the support plate 16 that is integral with the top of the rotatable column 2 and is inserted in turn rotatable on the cover 12. The support element 27 supports the bicycle 11 in a vertical position at the end of the stroke of the movable element 23. After the parking operation is completed, the door 10 is closed.
On the contrary, when the user wants to withdraw a bicycle 11 from the bicycle parking structure, the user is recognized through the user card or the like by the verification device, and the frustoconical platform 1 rotates so as to bring the sector n, in which the bicycle 11 is kept, behind the door 10. The control unit allows the door 10 to be opened, and the motor 17 rotates the worm screw 18 in a direction opposite with respect to the first one, to lower the support element 27 which supports the hub 35 of the bicycle in the recesses 34 of the brackets 28, 28. The rear wheel of the bicycle 11 contacts the guide channel 36 and goes ahead on it, then on the fixed channel 37 and on the chute 38 beyond the outer wall 8 of the bicycle parking structure until the front wheel rests on the bottom of the guide channel 36. Now, the user can lift the end of the hub 35 of the front wheel of the bicycle 11 from the recesses 34 of the brackets 28, 28 of the truncated V-shaped support element 27 and withdraw the bicycle 11 from the bicycle parking structure. After the bicycle 11 is removed, the door 10 is closed.
It is easily understood that, according to the present invention, the bicycles are contained within the bicycle parking structure in a closed space that is accessible by the bicycle only in a controlled manner. It is clear that the bicycles can be public, for example bicycles to rent in a bike-sharing program for visiting a town, as well as private bicycles of the employees in a company.
The platform may have different forms, including the cylindrical one, in which inclined guides are present as mounted on it. Also the bicycle lifting and lowering system can be accomplished with technical means of various type, other than those described. In any case, many changes may be made to the structure without departing from the scope of the appended claims.