Figure 1 – View of POROCLE’s station in Sapporo (photo by M. Matsumoto, June/2010)
What is it ?
Named after “SapPORO CyCLE”, POROCLE is the bike-sharing system of Sapporo City (Hokkaido, Japan), which started in 2009 as short-term ‘social experiences’ under the coordination of Docon Ltd, an engineering consulting company. Later, in 2010, NTT Docomo – one of the leading mobile phone operators in Japan – joined forces with Docon to conduct a larger scale 4-month-long experience which has launched in June 2010 with 6 stations and 50 bicycles and is to be expanded to 15 stations and 100 bicycles. An estimated 2500 users are expected this time.
The goals of POROCLE are threefold: first, to reduce illegal bicycle parking, which is a serious problem in Japan since cycles are so numerous; second, to induce modal shift from automobiles, therefore lowering CO2 emissions; and finally, to revitalize Sapporo’s city center, by making it more attractive.
Also, it must be said that Docon and NTT Docomo see a potential for bike-sharing in Japan as business.
POROCLE’s bike-sharing technology was developed under the supervision of Docon. It is a third-generation bike-sharing system , using bicycles that can be found in the market (Bridgestone Mariposa). Stations are solar/battery powered, and users identify with a contactless IC card. Bicycles are locked through the front wheel in a not so theft-proof way when compared to other systems around the globe. Although, in Japan it seems to be sufficient, as no bicycles have yet been stolen or vandalized from POROCLE.
An evolution of POROCLE’s technology is being prepared, with a specially designed bike and more high-tech stations, to be deployed in the next steps of the project.