Meet Liquid, Biking’s AirBNB
The biking world has seen innovations in the past that has done much to improve safety issues, infrastructure, and riding experience for bikers. One indication that biking has taken off in modern times as more than a pastime is the explosion of bike sharing and bike rentals for the public in many cities worldwide, making bicycles a prime option and mode of transportation to get around cities and urban areas. Yet though bike rentals are growing in number, there are still many places where such services are limited or do not yet exist due to barriers in infrastructure, regulations, and others.
The same problem exist with vacation rentals and accommodations. People who travel often have to rely on hotel accommodations and this limited if not dictated itineraries. Moreover, hotel room prices and availability vary during peak seasons, hampering travellers’ choices. AirBNB set out to change all that, and in 2008 the online service was launched to match people seeking short term accommodations with those who are willing to rent their unused spaces from single rooms to townhouses to castles. By July 2012 the company has reportedly more than 200,000 listings in 26,000 cities. Over a million hosts and travellers in nearly 200 countries use the service worldwide, most of them non-professional hoteliers.
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Liquid aims to achieve a similar effect if not success through its bike sharing program. Launched just last year as Spinlister, the company based in San Franciso lists bicycles for free in several, though not all, major US cities. Liquid plans to expand in other countries and currently accepts bicycle listings from around the world. Those who want to join the service can sign up using their Facebook accounts to either list or rent a bike. Bicycle listings include road bikes, BMX bikes, party bikes, fietscafe bikes, tandem bikes, and even a hydrocycle unit for adventurous renters.
Members who list a bike can set their own rental prices (the average price for a bike is $20 a day) and can be paid either through check or Paypal. The company takes a 12.5% service fee from the listed rental price. Liquid offers a fair value reimbursement of a member’s bicycle if it’s damaged or stolen during a rental up to $5000 (plus a cake).
Members who want to rent a bike can search one in the service’s listings, reserve it, and pick it up to ride. Renters are reminded that the bike is their responsibility during the rental period, and are also encouraged to leave reviews of the unit for other potential renters’ benefit. Liquid allows a 24 hour period for a renter to check a unit to their satisfaction before their payment is transferred to the lister.
If Liquid becomes as successful as AirBNB, it has the potential to change the range of the modern biker today by turning a passion for biking as a way to travel more places, meeting other bike lovers, and earning a small income in the bargain.
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