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Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Blog, San Juan County | 0 comments

Vacation Easier with Long-term Rental

Thinking of a getaway to the San Juan Islands? I think the best way is by bike.

But what if you’re flying to the Northwest for a visit, or you don’t have a bike, or you would find it a hassle to get your bike to the ferry?

No problem, with a new long-term rental service that opened this summer in Friday Harbor.

The service, called PedalAnywhere, also offers long-term rentals in Seattle and in San Francisco. And they’re trying to prove the concept and add locations around the country.

Pedal Anywhere client

PedalAnywhere rented to a French Canadian couple who took a month to ride to San Francisco. Photo courtesy Lucas Nivon.

Daily bike rentals have been around for a long time, and they’re a good option for dedicated cyclists who want a good bike for a day when visiting an area. They’re also great for organized, guided group rides. I led a ride last summer with rentals from Recycled Cycles, and it worked great. (Here’s a list of rental shops in the Seattle area, thanks to Cascade Bicycle Club.)

More recently, hourly bike rentals have become common in many cities, and the “Pronto” service will be introduced to Seattle this fall. I’ve tried these in a few places, and they’re great for short, focused rides. This summer, we rented “Boris Bikes” in London (nicknamed for their mayor who championed them) and had a great time zipping around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Bike parking, London style

Bike parking, London style. (Not a Boris Bike.)

But a long-term rental gives a visitor a chance to really fit the bike into their vacationing lifestyle, to really relax and enjoy it. And isn’t relaxation what vacations are all about?

Lucas Nivon, founder of PedalAnywhere, seems to have a philosophy like mine.

“I noticed that visitors would come to town for work at the big companies and UW and ask about renting a bike for a week or month while here — and the standard answer was always ‘just buy a beat up used bike and throw it away when you leave,’ ” Lucas told me recently. “After seeing that happen a number of times, I looked into it and realized that there really was no better answer, other than shipping a bike on the plane.”

Lucas, who’s a scientist and software developer by trade, acted on his idea by buying a used bike, fixing it up and offering it on Craigslist for monthly rental. When that went well, he expanded and made it a real business, based on Capitol Hill.

Renters reserve a bike online, come and pick it up or have it delivered for an extra fee. A lock and helmet are included. Rates are by multiple days or by the week. The bikes look great, and if there are mechanical problems, they’ll come out with a fix.

Pedal Anywhere client

Riding the Golden Gate Bridge on a rented bike. Photo courtesy Lucas Nivon.

A year into the venture, at the Seattle bike swap, Lucas ran into Mikial Denker of Travel Light Cycles, and soon had a second location in Friday Harbor. And he’s brought on a partner and staffer who bring lots of social media and cycling connections to the project. His partner, Zach Shaner, recruited Ben of Treat Street Bicycle Works in the Mission in San Francisco. More to come, I’m sure.

I love this concept – it’s another example of how our “sharing society” combined with the Internet makes these things possible. How about an AirBnB host who also offers bike rentals at an additional cost? There’s a partnership to be had there, I’m sure.

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