Tuesday, September 18, 2012

With Gas or Without? Two New Iterations of the Ride Share

Getting from Point A to Point B is getting increasingly digital. Meet two of the latest companies using apps (and locals eager to make extra cash) to help out travelers.
Spinlister: According to TechCrunch, there are over a billion bicycles on the planet, but only a small percentage of them are being used daily. Ka-ching!

Spinlister introduces bike owners with would-be renters and then gets out of the way. (It also lists more standard bike shops on its app and website). To entice bike owners to play, the company offers free insurance up to $5000 to cover damage or theft to the bikes. On average, bikes rent for $20/day, though renters are free to set their own rates. Spinlister takes 12.5% of each rental fee.

The company has been around since 2011,  acting as a two-wheel matchmaker in New York City and San Francisco. It announced recently that it will be adding a number of new cities this fall.

The question that dogs me is: will these bikes be in good repair? I myself had a bike that sat on my father's terrace for so long, it rusted through. Anybody who tried to pedal it wouldn't have gotten very far.

And what about helmets? Nobody should be cycling the mean streets of the Big Apple or San Francisco without one of those. (And I say this as the wife of a physical therapist, one who spends too many nights hearing about the horrific brain injuries those cycling without helmets get.)

I've searched, and can't find information on either of those important topics on the site. Hmmmm....

Lyft: With the cost of taxis going up and up (a painful topic in my hometown of NYC), this unofficial (and possibly illegal) site and app hooks up people who need a lift with folks near them who own a car and want to make some extra cash. The car owners simply smack a big pink mustache on the front of their car for identification (no joke!) and head out when they get the call. Riders can expect to be charged only about 20% of what an actual taxi would cost. Lyft claims to screen the criminal and driving records of all potential drivers.

At this point, Lyft is only available in San Francisco.

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