Peer-to-peer bike hire: the future of rental?

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Here’s a Stateside news story that might have international implications for cycle hire schemes…

As city bikes go, this looks like lots of fun
As city bikes go, this looks like lots of fun

We reported briefly on Spinlister earlier this week, but here’s a more in-depth look at the concept, and the new style of urban cycle hire scheme it’s announced, featuring the epically-name VanMoof bikes. Spinlister already provides an outlet for individuals to hire out their own skis, snowboards, SUPs, and surfboards, so it’s got previous experience of what it calls peer-to-peer rental: unlike existing fleet rental schemes, like London’s Santander (previously, and probably always now known as, Boris) Bikes, each bike is owned by an individual and there are no central hubs for storage/distribution.

Instead, the bikes are stored in the local environment’s existing public cycle storage locations and users can find, locate and lock/unlock them using the Spinlister mobile app. Each Dutch-made VanMoof bike is equipped with a Bluetooth wireless lock, as well as hub gear, dynamo lights, fenders – and a front basket, with cup holder, that’s perfect for your Laynes flat white.

So far, so tempting to nick – but Spinlister has thought that bit through, too. Each bike is tracked via its integrated computer. This updates the cycle’s location in the app once each rental period is completed, so that it’s available to another user – and it keeps tabs on it at all times, too, though there’s no information given about whether Spinlister or the bike’s owner is responsible for doing the tracking.

06 - computer unit from top
HAL on wheels.

Spinlister CMO Andrew Batey says:

“Our bike share model requires no sponsorship, government assistance, or tax funds to maintain. It’s a high quality smart bike that people actually WANT to ride. Simply put, the Spinlister system is better because it’s efficient, self-sustaining, and requires little investment from outside sources. The bikes are better because they’re high quality bikes that even a hardcore bike enthusiast will enjoy.”

“From a renter’s perspective, they can simply use the Spinlister app to locate a bike, book it, unlock it and ride away. From an owner’s perspective, they’re able to conveniently make money, help people, and participate in the worlds first sustainable bike share model… Spinlister is simply here to support and nurture this winning opportunity for all parties involved.”

“While the users own the bicycles, Spinlister has plans to subsidize and finance the bicycles to allow users to pay the bicycles back through rental revenue over time. This eliminates risk for the listers (bike owners) while creating a profitable revenue stream for them. A bike share owned by the people, for the people – the first fully sustainable bike share model of its kind.”

Spinlister is shipping the first bikes in this “next step in the sharing economy” to Portland, Oregon (where else?) later this summer. Will peer-to-peer rental catch on in this country for bikes, as it has with Airbnb? Perhaps, in a location where a higher than average percentage of the population are altruistic individuals. But does anywhere like that exist in the UK? Let’s see – the sign-up page goes live this weekend…

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