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Spinlister: Bikesharing By the People, For the People

If you're traveling in a city without a bikeshare, you might find yourself in the market for a rental bike that isn't a total rental bike.

I'm traveling this week, leaving my favorite two wheels (see above) safely locked up in an undisclosed location in Denver. While I'm going to Los Angeles, a city not really known for being super bikeable, I'm staying in two neighborhoods that will be pretty bike-friendly.

Here's my problem: Los Angeles doesn't have its bikeshare program yet. I'm crashing on somebody's couch, so why can't I crash on—er, borrow—somebody's bike?

Enter Spinlister, positioned as the Airbnb for bikes. List a bike, rent a bike. It's a very familiar mechanism, and while it's only in San Francisco and New York at the moment, when you think about the idea, it feels like it's been on the internet forever.

But it hasn't, and so it still has to go through its growing pains. Airbnb has had security problems and while Spinlister isn't likely to have mysterious systematic problems that can keep a bikeshare from launching, it does have one seemingly scary problem: it won't have the GPS antitheft devices that bikeshares do have. The site says that Spinlister guarantees security, though, and will reimburse bike owners to the fair value of their bikes—and buy them a cake.

This is fine. But somehow I feel more comfortable renting out my home on Airbnb than renting out my bike. People get attached to their bikes. It's nerve-wracking to imagine somebody parking it and locking it overnight somewhere sketchy (like a college campus). Even if the renters themselves don't steal it, we've learned that bike theft is easy and attractive.

I want it to work. I hope to watch it launch nationally and kick ass. For now, it's in beta in New York and San Francisco.

Would you rent your bike out on Spinlister? Got a spare junker that's perfect for that kind of thing? Or if you're in New York or San Francisco, have you done it already? Let me hear from you.

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