After running a few errands on foot yesterday afternoon, I wandered my way through the neighborhood on my return trip home. I was making my way past a popular playground park when I spotted this:
Spin is one of two private bike share companies (the other is LimeBike) that launched services in Seattle this month. They’re easy to identify: Spin bikes are bright orange and LimeBikes are bright green/yellow. Both bikes are equipped with front baskets, kickstands and locking devices.
You need a smart phone to download an app and a credit/debit card to use either bike share. The apps help you locate nearby bikes, unlock them and pay for your ride ($1 for thirty minutes). This screenshot shows the distribution of Spin bikes in West Seattle at this moment. As you can see, most of them are clustered along the waterfront.
I had downloaded both apps earlier this week in anticipation of trying out these bikes, so I was ready to ride when I discovered the Spin bike at the park. I scanned the barcode to unlock the bike, paid for my ride and took off for a test ride. My ride lasted for about twenty minutes and here are my quick observations:
- The bike is easy to use but the 3-speed gearing isn’t low enough for Seattle hills. Spin is aware of this and promises lower gears on its next round of bikes in the city.
- I like the convenience of parking the bike almost anywhere at the end of my ride (public bike racks or on the sidewalk out of the way of pedestrian traffic).
- With good citywide coverage, these bikes will make good options for spontaneous short trips.
- Downside: Not everyone has smart phones or credit/debit cards in order to use the system.
- Downside: Unless you travel with bike helmet in tow, you’ll probably violate our local helmet law when you ride of these bikes.
Will I take a spin with Spin again? You bet. I’m also looking forward to trying out a LimeBike soon.