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Spinlister asks Portlanders where its bike share should go and what they’d pay

Posted by on September 15th, 2015 at 10:29 am

spinlister zone

A possible initial service area for Spinlister, included in
its new web survey. The company added that it expects
the zone to grow.

The company planning to bring a private, free-floating bike sharing service to Portland is asking for input.

In a short web survey launched this month, Spinlister asks Portland residents how often they’d expect to rent bikes using the proposed Smart Bikes service, what they’d pay, how far they’d walk to reach the closest bike and what service area they’d like to see.

“We’re not doing this for fun or verification of a system already created to make them feel good,” Spinlister chief marketing officer Andrew Batey said in an email about the survey. “We’re building the platform to allow for variable business rules – which allows us to make fast and systemwide changes to various inputs (price, geo-fence, payment structures, support, etc.).”

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In other words, Portland wouldn’t just be Spinlister’s test market for the launch. The company will keep being able to experiment with its business model after its launch.

“For instance, we expect the zone to grow, but we need to understand the market and usage dynamics before scaling it entirely across Portland at once,” Batey said.

Spinlister’s business model, currently backed by venture capital, is unique. It has said it expects to ship branded bikes to selected Portlanders who would then essentially become owners of their own fleets of smart bikes, with a share of the revenue going back to Spinlister.

Last week, Batey told us that Spinlister could launch in Portland immediately but hasn’t fully staffed up yet as it gathers market information like this. It’s happening as the city simultaneously considers a public bike share system that would use both smart bikes (of a different brand) and fixed stations. Portland City Council will decide tomorrow whether to sign a contract for its system to launch next July.

Spinlister’s survey took me about 10 minutes; after completing it, you can choose to enter in a prize drawing.

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25 Comments
  • Avatar
    RushHourAlleycat September 15, 2015 at 10:43 am

    When I think fleet of rental bikes, I think tourists blocking up bike paths worse than weekend warriors in lycra at the first good weather weekend of the year.

    Doesn’t seem like something residents would often use. Does smart bikes mean e-bikes? I might pay for one if I was sick or injured? Wanted to travel across the hill to Justin Bieberton?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) September 15, 2015 at 11:06 am

      They’re not e-bikes, just bikes that can talk to nearby smartphones using Bluetooth. You’d use them the same way you’d use any bike sharing system, presumably: as part of a multimodal trip where you didn’t bring your own bike, or for recreation when you don’t have a bike of your own on hand.

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      jeff September 15, 2015 at 11:24 am

      all those pesky people using your public thoroughfare, right? oh wait…

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        RushHourAlleycat September 15, 2015 at 12:07 pm

        Oh I like to see them using it, less enthused to see groups of confused people with their bikes angled sideways across the path, trying to reach consensus about where to go next. It’s okay though I’ll ride on the grass

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    Pete September 15, 2015 at 10:53 am

    As someone who’s 6’4″ and travels a bunch, I’ve used spinlister in a few cities to find a bike that fits me, is well cared for by its private owner, and it’s even come with some advice on what to see and to avoid. I’m planning to list one of my bikes, and I hope to see this model/service scale widely!

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      soren September 15, 2015 at 11:37 am

      Splinsters is going to provide the bikes for this program so it’s different from what they have done elsewhere.

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    JP September 15, 2015 at 11:19 am

    This is an interesting concept and a great example of the “sharing economy”. Here are some of my thoughts:

    It seems like Spinlister is asking for a heavy lift from it’s listers. Listers have to essentially pay for the bike (over time), and take care of coordinating, relocating, and repairing the bikes as well.

    The proposed service area is a great.

    The survey seems to suggest they are leaning towards a $5/hour price point. This is higher than the proposed price for Portland’s other potential bike share system, and twice the cost of a 2.5 hr TriMet ticket.

    How would Spinlister deal with bike theft? What about liability issues (say a wheel falls off a bike and the user gets hurt and sues, is the lister liable?)

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      J. E. September 15, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      $5/hr is insane. $10 gets you an all-day unlimited-use Divvy pass in Chicago. $75 will get you a year-long unlimited-use Divvy membership. And the service area is HUGE.

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    Allan September 15, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I wish the city would put it’s $2M grant into this program instead of going w/ motivate

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty September 15, 2015 at 11:43 am

    I’ll be interested to see if the competition makes the program(s) stronger, or if they split the market such that neither can achieve critical mass.

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    WAR September 15, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Worthless. Everyone in that zone drives BMWs.

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      Dan Sr. September 15, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      So untrue, what about the Teslas, Outbacks, and Prii?

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      Me September 15, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      No BMWs on my block/ or anywhere near my house and I live in this zone.

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      Nick Falbo September 15, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      I’m in this zone. My building has 8 parking spaces for 60 units, and street parking is not free. While 2 of the cars *are* BMWs, The vast majority of us are car free.

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    J. E. September 15, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I’m extremely disappointed in the types of bikes they apparently plan on using for this service. Bike share programs in other cities almost exclusively use upright, step-through bikes (usually with a basket in front) because this is the type of bike frame most easily and comfortably ridden by all demographics. Little old lady with weak hips? Young adult male with neck problems? College kid who’s never ridden a bike that wasn’t an upright Huffy from Walmart? Woman with heavy purse who doesn’t want to ride with it dangling from her shoulder? Middle-aged man who’s admittedly overweight, in poor shape, and not very flexible? Tourist family with older children who want an easy way to hop around downtown and inner NE/SE without renting a car or waiting on public transit? These are whom the traditional “shopping bike” is made for: everyone and anyone, regardless of physical condition or cycling experience.

    And yet, according to the video in the survey and the post on BP a few months back, Spinlister plans on using a more “traditional” diamond-frame lean-over type model with–at best–a tiny, shallow pan for a “basket.” Bike share is a great way to bring the “interested but concerned” crowd into cycling for transportation by overcoming the big hurdle of having to shop for and purchase a personal bike (that’s how a lot of people I knew in Chicago got into cycling). Providing them with bicycles that are NOT universally easy and comfortable to ride is not the way to do this. If Spinlister can’t get this basic point of bike share right, I’m wondering what else they’re going to overlook.

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      davemess September 16, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Yeah I has a similar thought, wondering how they were going to get enough variation in bike size out there. The other bikes you described don’t have that much problem. You simply adjust the seat and go.

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    mark September 15, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Looking at the map, it seems they are excluding portions of PSU and areas right up against 405. That’s kind of interesting.

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      RushHourAlleycat September 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      Souh waterfront and the new Tillikum bridge (why did they name it after the whale that Sea World tortured and drove to kill humans?) also notably absent.

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    Audrey September 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    My only question is why did I have to turn the volume up for that video??

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    Me September 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    A couple blocks north and you could include NE Alberta (And even Killingsworth- Hello PCC)

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    Ray Atkinson September 15, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    I have rented out my road bike through Spinlister several times a week for about a month so far. Since I work 40 hours/week, my schedule isn’t very flexible to coordinate with renters to pick up and drop off my road bike. Due to this, I emailed Spinlister to ask if I can extend the rental time to over a day but less than two days and keep the rental price at the one day rate. Spinlister informed me, “extensions cannot have custom prices at the moment. Extensions are a beast, so we had to cut some corners to get it out. We’ll add custom prices to extensions eventually. But in the meantime, your renter can just request the bike again and you can do a custom price there.” In order to create the custom price, I would change my actual daily ride price. For example, my actual daily ride price is currently set at $15. If I wanted to charge $15 for two days because I work during the day and want the bike returned in the evening, I would change my actual daily ride price from $15 to $7.50 then change it back to $15 after the custom rental. This means I risk losing the renter if the renter chooses not to wait for me to change my actual daily ride price and request my bike again. Hopefully Spinlister will allow flexibility with custom prices in the future.

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      Lisa September 15, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      I usually get around this just by directly telling the renter they can return the next day at no extra charge, and just make the reservation for one day. Spinlister thinks the bike is returned on time but both the renter and I know the truth. Haven’t had any issues yet.

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        Ray Atkinson September 16, 2015 at 1:54 am

        I have thought about doing what you suggest. However, the Spinlister Guarantee ends when the rental ends. I’m not willing to have my bike rented out when it is not covered by the Spinlister Guarantee.

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    gutterbunnybikes September 15, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Their zone is pretty close to the same zone as the cities proposed zones.

    Problem is the city has the upper hand, since they could legally pull the rug out from under Spinlister at anytime -(and sorta has hinted at it).

    A few weeks ago I would have given Spinster the advantage with the bluetooth flexibility advantage, but the city system with the political backing will make it almost impossible for there to be any real competition – especially since the cities system is (or could be) just as flexible.

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    Justin Carinci September 16, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Portland has sure taken care of that last-mile problem. That first mile needs some work.

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