Founder & CEO, Oonee
Jun 16, 2022
Bicycling has enjoyed a huge boom in popularity in New York during the pandemic — to the tune of a 33 percent increase, according to the city’s Department of Transportation.
But the influx of new riders has revealed some of the bigger stresses on the transportation system: If you bike around the city at all — for errands, commuting, exercise — you’ve probably noticed that it’s hard to find a safe place to store your bike. And that’s after you’ve dealt with the morass of shoddy or unsafe bike lanes, the lack of cohesive cycling infrastructure throughout the city, and a Wild West of e-bikes, scooters and general hostility toward anything on two wheels.
“The problem we have right now is that we have a city and we have city streets that are largely designed for cars,” Shabazz Stuart, CEO of the bike parking start-up Oonee, told Brooklyn Magazine earlier this year. “If people feel the streets aren’t made for them as users, you will always feel like a guest on a roadway.”
Oonee, which is Japanese for sea urchin, is a Brooklyn-based company looking to address some of these issues. In December, the start-up unveiled a bicycle parking system in Williamsburg’s Domino Park called the Oonee Mini, with secure storage for up to six bikes. The ultimate goal is to erect thousands of different- sized modular parking sheds and storage facilities throughout the five boroughs.
In March, Oonee’s Mini began a tour through the city, where it’s placed in high-volume areas for a month at a time to allow the city to gather data and determine next steps. Keep an eye out for one on Vanderbilt Avenue through June.
“If you build it, they definitely will come,” Stuart said on “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast.” “We want to create bike parking facilities citywide that allow people to use their bike to get from point A to point B, to make more bike trips possible. You can’t do that unless you have secure bike parking.”
Led by a team of Black and brown advocates, designers, and policy experts, Oonee is thinking bigger than just parking, though. Stuart and his colleagues are looking to change the dialogue around cycling in the city — and hoping to build a system that’s friendlier for cyclists, beyond just a few new bike lanes.
“The priority is changing the conversation,” said Stuart, who was the deputy director of operations at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership prior to cofounding Oonee. “It’s dominated by white men. That’s not reflective of who actually bikes in the city: We’ve got 65,000 delivery workers … who are almost all people of color and immigrants. A majority of people who bike in New York City are non-white.”