Spinlister has just unveiled what they hope will be the future of bike share programs at SXSW in Austin. Rather than relying on clunky bikes that are stored at central locations and owned by a private company (a la CitiBike), Spinlister’s bikes—which are designed and produced by VanMoof—are independently owned by riders (i.e., you), and rental time can be located, booked, and the bike unlocked via smartphone app, wherever they may be parked.
Spinlister has been around since 2012 as a global peer-to-peer ride sharing app, which can be used for anything from bikes to skis to surfboards. Through their collaboration with Dutch manufacturer VanMoof, they hope to bring a massive update to the culture of ridesharing.
The program requires individual owners buying the custom-designed VanMoof bicycles. The smartbikes themselves have much more of the look of a standard commuter bike than those currently used in centralized bike share programs, but are fitted with a Bluetooth system for locking and unlocking, and have an on-board computer integrated into the frame that updates the bike’s location on the app.
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In addition to this, VanMoof explains, the bike includes “antitheft wireless tracking, tamperproof nuts, easily adjustable seatpost, and dynamo integrated lighting system. The lightweight alloy frame with double-wall alloy rims and oversized puncture resistant tyres insure that the bicycles will remain maintenance and user-friendly.” All of which is rather important, really.
The first bikes will be made available in Portland, Oregon, and will create the city’s first bike share program. For now, owners will have to purchase the bikes outright, and then recoup the costs through Spinlister rentals with Spinlister claiming 17.5% of revenue. There’s no word yet on what the initial purchase costs will be.
Spinlister hopes to change the purchasing system over time, and provide subsidies and financing to “eliminate risk for the listers (bike owners) while creating a profitable revenue stream for them.” Renters will sign an agreement assuming all risk for the condition of the bike, while the bikes will be insured for up to $10,000 to protect listers against sudden expenses.
Spinlister CMO Andrew Batey explained in a press release, “From an owner’s perspective, they’re able to conveniently make money, help people, and participate in the worlds first sustainable bike share model. This model requires no sponsorship from private companies or allocation of tax resources from governments into a model known to be flawed.” It’s a pretty cool idea, but it remains to be seen if it can successfully replace the existing, and yes, admittedly addled bike share programs in the U.S.