Forget riding your friend’s handlebars as he blindly navigates a crowded city street — unless you’re into that sort of thing. Thanks to a new peer-to-peer bike-sharing website called Spinlister, you may soon be able to rent a bike almost anywhere.
The brainchild of co-founders Will Dennis and Jeff Noh, a pair of 20-somethings living in New York City, Spinlister is like peer-to-per car-sharing services such as RelayRides, only for bikes. Bike owners snap photos of their two-wheeled trophies and post them to Spinlister’s online marketplace, along with the type of bike, the price per day, and the pick-up location. For those in search of a rental, it’s as simple as punching in their location, selecting the ride they want, making an online payment/reservation via credit card, and coordinating a meet-up time with the bike owner.
In addition to individual listers, Spinlister also works with bike rental shops. And while right now the service itself is only online in San Francisco and the Big Apple, Dennis says there will soon be nearly 1,000 bikes available for rent. And that’s just in the barely two weeks’ time since the official launch on April 1.
“We’ve got some great responses so far,” says Dennis.
Lest you think an online bike rental service screams flannel-wearing hipsters, let’s not forget what’s happening to millennials all over the U.S.: They don’t care about cars anymore. (See: the writer of this article.) As the cost of driving increases — gas, insurance, plus the autos themselves — and they spend more of their time in the online sphere, the youth of today are looking to alternative modes of transportation. Forget Rebel Without a Cause. Now it’s, “Hey, has anyone seen my bus pass?”
Or, with Spinlister: “Hey, I’m in New York for the summer and need a set of wheels.” That was Dennis’ predicament: He spent last summer in New York City — at a student start-up incubator, no less — but says there was nothing “that served a long-term rental purpose for me, and short-term [bike] rentals were expensive.”
Dennis has been working with Noh on Spinlister full-time since graduating from college in Los Angeles in December. The company takes a cut from each transaction: 12.5 percent from both the lister and renter, which goes toward credit card processing, the company, and Spinlister’s insurance policy to make sure you don’t get left in the lurch if some schmuck steals or wrecks your bike.
Of course, while bicycle theft is a real concern, Dennis doesn’t foresee it being an issue. “It’s way easier to steal a bike off the street than meet a person and not come back with it,” he says.
As of now, the two have been accepting listings in other cities — more than 80 different sites in 30 countries, which they’ll gradually roll out and make live over the next few months. They’re looking at possible expansion into Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Austin next.
And even though many cities are instigating officially sanctioned bike share programs, there’s not always a convenient pick-up and drop-off point — and most charge by the hour. And there’s something else, too, says Dennis.
The overarching goal of Spinlister is to create a community — to get bicyclists together with their own kind. Eventually, the company plans to build in mandatory Facebook connect and phone number-trading components to the online site. “I went out to dinner with a guy from South Africa I rented a bike to,” Dennis says.
Ladies … can I interest any of you in a bike-up theater date?