In the city center, it has been a while since we were surprised not to see an offer for bike rental from car rental companies. Sixt (a Dutch company) leads. Alleluia …
Rent rather than own
Renting is preferable to use over ownership. It eats differently. Today, everything is rented. If you want an evening dress that sparkles, go to the page for an evening dress1 which offers haute couture clothing to wear for an evening (or a little more). Peer-to-peer rental platforms are booming … Airbnb is probably the best known with a profound transformation of tourism and city centers. A quick look at Leboncoin and you will find a wealth of rental offers. Here a bike rack, there a tandem, here a bike. You can even rent the pool next door2. On the other hand, good news we searched, we did not find a platform for renting pets3.
Bicycle rental, a (mainly) public offer
Municipalities and regions do their utmost to offer you bike rentals. Find the bike center in your city and you will necessarily find a bike that suits you, for the duration that suits you. When we talk about Maison du vélo, we can mention Rennes (we talked about here), Toulouse or even Grenoble. Of course, there are other cities and other regions that are quite exemplary when it comes to renting bicycles offered by public services.
And bike rental companies …
… has been in place for a long time at resorts. Mountain villages, seaside resorts; all have a wealth of bike rental offers. Also in the city center is Holland Bikes to take an example, as we mentioned in our columns a few days ago, in the game or Paulette Bike4. Offers aimed at tourists on a casual trip who want to discover the city or region or even roaming. Otherwise, there are also long-term bike rental systems with companies like Swapfiets or Red-Will at the helm.
Car rental companies, large absences from bike rental
We could spontaneously say to ourselves that the tourist arriving a few days to a big city might want his usual car rental company to offer him a bike to get around. The traditional car rental company in the city center (Hertz, Sixt, Europcar …) is to some extent in competition with the fleets of bicycles and scooters offered by Lime or Pony. They take time to get interested. Sixt has just started to do that.
An agency, 30 bicycles
It is this storefront that appeals to me. A bike in front and just above, not one, not two but three. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you really read three A4 sheets that advertise “Try our new electric bikes. In collaboration with Angell Bike“. Reporter from the field and junk, I gather my courage in both hands and push to the door of the agency, park my bike and advertise”It’s to rent a bike, I come for information“.
The young woman at the front desk wants me to write the Angell Bike article. I politely decline. “No, do not show me the bike necessary, I have my opinion on it. However, I would like to know your circumstances.“and here they are:
“We offer this bike for rent for 9 € / day. The bike is connected, we offer you a one-time code for the app (Editor’s note: you must therefore download it). A security deposit of € 300 is required. We give you a free padlock and a helmet if you wish. The bike is chipped, so there is little risk of it being stolen. But should this happen, you will be asked for a deductible of € 50. In case of a problem (puncture, breakdown) you can call our assistance service“.
This young woman then tells me that “this bike rental is currently only available at this agency, at 65 boulevard de Sébastopol. We have been testing this offer for three months. We have about thirty bicycles in stock, they are in reserve. We have been trained to adapt the saddle correctly to our customers. Also trained to learn how to control battery charging and tire pressure. We rent about 3 bikes a week. Primarily for tourists. We can also offer rentals over a longer period, a week, a month. The price in this case goes down to around 4-5 € per month depending on a few parameters. (Editor’s note 4 € / month = 120 € / month, 30 to 40% more expensive than specialists after all). You can order it online, the bike is offered in the fleet of vehicles that can be rented from the Sebastopol agency.
It’s a beginning
Not so long ago, we announced here that rue de Rivoli will, in our opinion, become Paris’ cycling district. This Sixt branch is literally 100 meters down this street. 3 rented bikes a week is probably not enough to make the service profitable. On the other hand, you need to give customers time to know and understand that a car rental agency is also a place where you can rent bikes.
Perhaps the solution will come by expanding the range of bikes that can be rented. Cargo, longtail, tandem, folding bikes. All these specific bikes that everyday cyclists know but do not need … everyday. Sixt is deployed in about twenty rental agencies in Paris. Why not be more ambitious? Are you starting by implementing the thirty cycles available in 4 or 5 hypercenter agencies?
To rent is to test
Rental has the biggest advantage of offering a test bike for a few hours, a few days. For skeptics, it’s a great way to experience life with a bike. For riders looking for their next ride, this is the best way to check if the coveted bike is the right one. We spoke to Claire, the manager of Brompton Junction, rue de Rivoli. “At the moment, this service is not offered by us, it is under investigation “. Because she tells us: “We have a real demand from tourists who love the brand, who are in Paris for a few days, and who would like to experience Paris on a BromptonIn the meantime, if you need a trailer to move with your bike, you can find it at Kiloutou.
1 A dress for an evening
2 Neighbor’s swimming pool
3 Rent a pet
4 Paulette bicycle