Bike security is in the news when thefts are reported or other stories make the media. The program in Vancouver, Washington, is not new, but it's not been posted here before so much (some photos are up in the photo galleries section that are connected to my flickr pages.
Much like a parking card or other pay as you go technolgies (think of a phone card, pre-paid coffee card etc.). Users swipe or insert a card into technology to access bike lockers, perforated so contents can be seen. Costs a negligible for the user - 5 cents an hour. The price as much as anything reflects, probably, a fee to finance card technology or simply to create an exchange to ensure the access system works.
For many locations where cyclists can be expected to park for more extended periods - longer than a quick trip into a grocery store or coffee shop - higher levels of security are useful (think of a movie theatre, performing arts centre or recreation complex). The system can be used to secure bikes and contents and give the user some comfort that all will be there when he or she returns from their destination. It's something between the basic, free standing bike rack on the sidewalk and the full meal deal of all day, weather protected anc controlled access security necessary at workplaces or residences.