Published on May 2nd, 2012 | by Chris Keenan
Rent a Bike, Make a Friend
There’s no denying it, young Americans are more focused on bicycles and public transportation than their parents were. With younger perspectives focused online and with more and more jobs offering telecommuting as a viable option, young people are relying less on owning a car. Like solar power, going green with bicycles is becoming a common phrase with the younger set.
In fact, in some urban areas, owning a vehicle is downright inconvenient. Between insurance, gasoline, car maintenance and parking fees, the cost of owning a car coupled with expensive household costs is too high for some young urbanites. Some cities have begun addressing this shift and are establishing bike lanes in busy downtowns. Yes, we’re beginning to see some real changes towards a bike-friendly society.
What if you only need a bike for a short time period? There are bike shops that rent bicycles by the hour, but if you need the bike for a couple weeks while on vacation, the price quickly becomes steep. Or what if you contracted work in another city and need a bike for a month or two? Thanks to Splinster, you now have affordable and convenient bike rental options for longer lengths of time than just tooling around the beach for a day. And using the service is easier than building a photography website.
It works like this: people who want to rent just post pictures of their bikes and rates on Splinster. Someone who wants a bike rental for a short term enters their zip code on Splinster to find a nearby bike owner. Then they decide on the bike they want to rent and submit their interest. The renter and bike owner then agree on a pick-up and drop-off location and time. Payment is submitted to Splinster, which, in turn, then pays the person renting the bike. The added bonus is the potential for making friendships along the way.
Splinster is the brainchild of co-founders Will Dennis and Jeff Noh. Their 12.5% cut of the renter/owner transaction goes to pay credit card processing, the company, and their insurance policy, which protects the owner if someone steals or wrecks their bicycle. They’re not too concerned that stealing will be an issue and point out that it’s easier to steal a bike off the street than agree to meet someone and then steal it. Currently, they’re online in San Francisco and New York City but are working with bike rental companies and other individuals to expand into Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Austin.
The bigger goal of Splinster is to connect bikers in a community and to connect those communities across the nation. From their perspective, renting bicycles is a great way to meet other like-minded individuals, and the end result can be making a friendship that stretches beyond that initial transaction. In the end, they’re offering an appealing combination of friendship, greener living and a cleaner, more connected community.
Photo Credit: vpickering