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Spinlister Offers Cheaper, By-Owner Bike Rentals in NYC

By Emily Frost | August 19, 2012 1:14pm

NEW YORK CITY — Angeleno Will Dennis was moving to New York City for the summer in 2011 and didn't want to be without a bike in a relatively flat city whose expanding bike infrastructure is fast making it a biker's haven.

Daily rentals were too pricey, and buying a used bike and then selling it at the end of summer seemed too much of a hassle.

The idea for Spinlister, which lets bike owners list and rent out their bikes for any period of time at the price of their choosing, was born. 

The company, which Dennis co-founded with Jeff Noh, launched in New York City and San Francisco this April, and though the Bay Area is known for its crunchy biker types, Dennis said the two cities "have been surprisingly neck and neck," in terms of participation: Each has about 80 bikes listed for rent for anywhere from a few hours to six weeks, with owners charging an average of $20 a day — or about half what the tourist-focused rental companies charge. 

West Village local Joanna Goddard loves the concept.

"Basically, it's airbnb [a private accomodation listing service] for bikes," she wrote on her blog. 

Goddard found a bike available nearby for $50 a week: "Amazing!!!" she wrote. "Way better than paying $350/week, which is what our neighborhood bike shop would charge." 

Lisa Sladkus, a community organizer for Transportation Alternatives, said she's always excited to hear about a new bike rental company, but wanted to make sure Spinlister shared the rules of the road with its renters.

"It seems like New Yorkers and tourists are loving biking in our city as it becomes safer and safer," said Sladkus. 

Dennis acknowledges that Mayor Bloomberg's announcement Friday — that the rollout of the city’s long-awaited bike share program has been delayed until at least the spring — makes Spinlister more valuable to New Yorkers who either have too-small apartments for a bike, have a friend visiting, or don't want to commit to buying a bike, and to tourists. 

"[Bike] renters are really liking interacting with a local who can give them recommendations for the best coffee shops and their favorite rides," said Dennis.

The company makes money by charging both the renter and the lister 12.5 percent of the cost of the rental, but there are no limits on how much one can charge. Bikes are insured by Spinlister for up to $5,000.

Dennis wouldn't say how many people are participating, but said they plan to expand to other cities and develop an iPhone app so that you know "you're never more than five or ten minutes walk from a bike."