Avalara MyLodgeTax > Blog > Rental Tips and Advice > Bicycle options to consider for your short-term rental guests

Bicycle options to consider for your short-term rental guests

  • May 2, 2018 | MyLodgeTax

In celebration of National Bike Month, we wanted to take a look at options for providing environmentally friendly transportation for your short-term rental guests. The timing couldn’t be better for human-powered or human-assisted transportation options. The biking and startup world are all abuzz with the expansion of undocked bike and scooter rental services. Depending on where your rental is located, such services may be an option. In general, having transportation on site is more traditional and likely to be more convenient for guests.

Let’s take a look at the options you have and how each might work for your guests.

Host-owned, on-site bikes

  • Ideal for: All locations
  • Pros: Bikes are available 24/7. No cost for guests.
  • Cons: May not have enough bikes for all guests. Bike sizes may not match guests’ needs.
  • Where to start: Craigslist, eBay, local used bike shops

The most obvious option for your guests is to have owned options on site. Riders don’t have to deal with finding a shared bike service, scheduling a peer-to-peer bike rental, or locating a bike shop from which to rent.

Consider finding used bikes to keep on hand for guests. You’ll be providing your guests with transportation while helping to keep used bikes from ending up in landfills, rivers, or wasting away in someone’s garage. Vintage bikes, older 10-speeds, and BMX bikes can frequently be found on Craigslist for under $50 and are ideal for short-term guests. eBay is also an option if you’re willing to cover shipping costs. Want to provide a more unique experience? Beach cruisers, tandem, or lowrider bikes offer a creative opportunity to provide guests a fun and memorable cycling experience.

There may be questions regarding the legality of providing guests with transportation and potential injuries. At least one thread on Airbnb addresses this concern. It’s likely best to consult with your insurance company to identify what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. Of course, you should also provide a least one helmet for each bicycle.

Bike-sharing services

  • Ideal for: Larger metropolitan areas and college towns
  • Pros: Guests can rent exactly what they need. Low-cost option for guests/no-cost option for host.
  • Cons: Only available in larger communities. Adult-sized bikes only.
  • Where to start: Limebike, Ofo, and Mobike

Local bike sharing services such as LimeBike, Ofo, and Mobike are the talk of Silicon Valley these days. Ofo recently celebrated passing one million rides in the United States in just three months. That’s a lot of pedaling! If you live in or near a major metropolitan area or a college town, you likely have seen these rentable bikes around town — often in unexpected locations.

Recognizable by their pragmatic design and bright colors (green, orange, and yellow), these bikes can be rented on the spot with just a smartphone and the appropriate app. Riders are free to leave the bike at the final destination. There is no need to return the bike or dock it to recharge. The limited electricity required to power the wheel lock is 100% solar powered.

Peer-to-peer bike sharing

  • Ideal for: Larger metros
  • Pros: Guests can schedule bike sharing before trip. Guests can get the type of bike they need.
  • Cons: May require multiple bike rentals for a family. Not ideal for remote locations.
  • Where to start: Spinlister and JUMP Bikes

For those who prefer the reliability of schedule a bike rental, peer-to-peer bike sharing may be the best option. Spinlister and JUMP Bikes provide platforms for renting bikes from locals in a manner similar to the Uber model (minus the driver!). In fact, JUMP Bikes was recently acquired by Uber.

One approach to utilizing this service as a host would be to leave instructions for guests on how to download the necessary smartphone app and use it to find a local sharing option. Both services depend on bike owners to share their bikes for rental. As a result availability will be skewed toward more heavily populated metro areas.

Local bike rental shops

  • Ideal for: Everywhere
  • Pros: Bikes are well maintained. Get biking location tips from local staff.
  • Cons: Pricier option. Limited to shop inventory.
  • Where to start: Google Maps, Bike Exchange

Most cities also offer bike rental options from local bike shops. As a host, it’s helpful to provide guests with a map of the closest options for renting a bike. For most, Google Maps is the go-to option for finding bike shop locations. BikeExchange is another option that offers a map of bike shops in the United States. The list is somewhat limited, however.

In a show of hospitality, consider providing water bottles, backpacks, or helmets for guests to help defray total rental costs.

Airbnb touring experiences

  • Ideal for: Anywhere Airbnb Experiences are offered
  • Pros: All-inclusive option. Guided tour with local.
  • Cons: Bikes may not be available for general cycling and exploration. May not offer children’s bikes.
  • Where to start: Airbnb

Having expanded their offerings to include “Experiences” in 2017, Airbnb provides an option for making transportation a core component of your guests’ stay. From bikes to scooters to skateboards, interested parties can tour some of the world’s most celebrated destinations without the hassle of renting a car, finding parking, or adhering to a bus schedule. If you’re a cycling enthusiast and enjoy being a tour guide, consider taking advantage of the Airbnb Experience option as another way to make money.

Lodging tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
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