How to Rent a Bike
Cycling during a trip is getting easier all the time
For the dedicated traveling cyclist, there is no perfect option. Either you bring your own bike, which involves all different kinds of hassle and potential risk to your beloved ride, or you rent a bike. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and, thankfully, in many cities around the world, things are getting easier.
The fastest and friendliest way to get your hands on a bike away from home is by using a city bike-share network. They generally consist of identical, easily adjustable, easy-to-ride bikes that can be rented all over a city from automated kiosks. The Parisian Vélib’ system is the world’s largest, seconded by Montreal’s BIXI network. Many cities are adding public bike shares; among the fortunate destinations are: Montreal, London, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, Denver, Washington DC, Miami and Minneapolis. NYC is toying with adding a bike share this spring, and many existing systems are undergoing constant expansion.
If you happen to be staying at or near a university in the US, many campuses have their own extensive bike-sharing programs. Included are such diverse locations as UC Irvine, Cornell, University of Chicago, Ohio State, University of Vermont and many others.
For those traveling to a less-well-served location, or in need of a particular mount, private bike rental either from a shop, hotel or tour service is the way to go. The Ace Hotel in Portland, OR, and the Good Hotel in San Francisco, CA, both rent bikes along with the room.
Popular tourist destinations will feature an abundance of bike rentals, from cruisers to road bikes. A thorough search in most cities should uncover a large shop that offers hybrids or city bikes for rent. I’ve found them in the yellow pages or through 411 in a pinch. If you plan on using the bike for everyday transport, consider bringing your lock.
If none of the previous options are working for you, then you can always just buy a bike with a plan to resell it before leaving. Co-ops and small used bike shops might promise to buy a bike back from you for slightly less than you paid, effectively making it a rental. Purchase and resale through Craigslist can work too, depending on the area.
Whatever option you choose, be persistent. Your stay will be all the better for it.