For Rent By Owner: New Bike-Renting Site Spinlister Is Awesome

Spinlister lets you rent bikes from people who own them in your hometown.

Since Philly is seriously lacking in the bike-share department (lame), this is a pretty cool backup plan: a new website called Spinlister that lets users rent bikes directly from owners. It’s sort of Airbnb-meets-Zip Car for bike sharing. You create a profile, search by your location (and size, and type if you prefer), and find a list of bikes available for rent nearby.

The program launched last April in New York City and San Francisco and just last month reached other cities, including Philly. It’s still considered in its beta phase here, but a quick search this morning already turned up a few local results. Owners can set the prices, but I’m seeing most of them in the $15-to-$30-per-day range; there are also hourly and weekly rates.

I’ll be curious to see how it takes off here in Philly, where we lead the pack with twice the bike commuters per capita than other big U.S. cities, but it seems like a super useful and innovative idea, particularly for city dwellers who might want to bike every so often but don’t feel like going through the hassle of buying, maintaining and storing two wheels of their own. It could also be a good way to test out different kinds of bikes or styles of cycling—like, say, a road cyclist thinking about trying his hand at mountain biking.

Interested in listing your bike? The site is free to list, but when someone rents your bike, Spinlister takes 12.5 percent of your earnings. The site makes it clear that the safety and security of your bike is in the hands of the renter (which, among other things, means the renter is supposed to have a bike lock). However, if something happens to your bike, Spinlister will cover the cost up to $5,000. And supposedly they’ll buy you a cake, too. I’d definitely take them up on the cake.

Learn more about the program here.

>> Tell us: Would you rent a bike to (or from) a stranger? Do you think this will take off in Philly? Share your thoughts in the comments.