In the city center, we have long been surprised not to see a car rental offer from car rental companies. Sixt (a Dutch company) leads the way. Hallelujah …
Rent instead of own
Renting is preferring use to ownership. It is consumed differently. Everything is rented today. If you want a bright evening gown, go for a night gown1 which offers haute couture clothing to wear one night (or a little longer). Peer-to-peer rental platforms are flourishing … Airbnb is probably best known for a profound transformation of tourism and city centers. Check out Leboncoin and you’ll find plenty of rental deals. Here’s a bike rack, there’s a tandem, here’s a bike. You can even rent the pool to the neighbor2. On the other hand, good news, we searched, we couldn’t find a pet rental platform3.
Bicycle rental, a public offer (mainly).
Municipalities and regions are doing their best to provide you with bicycle rental services. Find the bike center in your city and you will necessarily find the bike that suits you, for the duration that suits you. When we talk about Maison du vélo, we can mention the one in Rennes (we were talking about it here), the one in Toulouse or even the one in Grenoble. Of course, there are other cities and counties that are quite exemplary when it comes to renting bicycles offered by utilities.
And bicycle rental companies …
… they have been in place in resorts for a long time. Mountain villages, spas; they all have a lot of bike rental deals. In the city center, too, Holland Bikes to give an example that we discussed in our columns a few days ago, is in the game or Paulette Bike4. Offers aimed at tourists who want to discover the city or region or even roaming. Otherwise, there are also long-term bike rental systems, led by companies like Swapfiets or Red-Will.
Car rental companies, big absentee from bike rental
We could say to ourselves, spontaneously, the tourist who arrives for a few days in a big city, maybe he wants his usual car rental company to offer him a bicycle to move around. The traditional car rental company in the city center (Hertz, Sixt, Europcar …) is a bit in competition with the fleets of bicycles and scooters offered by Lime or Pony. They take time to get interested. Sixt is just beginning to do so.
One agency, 30 bicycles
It is this showcase that attracts me. A bicycle in front and just above, not one, not two but three. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you have correctly read three A4 sheets announcing “Try our new electric bikes. In collaboration with Angell Bike“Field reporter and garbage, I gather my courage with both hands and push the door of the agency, I lift my bike and announce.”It’s for renting a bike, I come looking for information“.
The girl at the front desk wants me to write the article Angell Bike. I decline politely. “No, show me the bike is not necessary, I have my opinion on it. However, I would like to know your terms.“and here they are:
“We offer this rental bike for 9 € / day. The bike is connected, we offer a one-time code for the application (Editor’s note: therefore, you must download). A deposit of € 300 will be requested. We provide you with a free padlock and helmet if you wish. The bike is broken, so there is little risk of theft. However, if this happens, you will be asked for a € 50 deductible. In case of a problem (puncture, breakdown) you can call our support service“.
Then this young woman tells me that “This bicycle rental service is currently only available at this agency at 65 boulevard Sevastopol. We have been testing this offer for three months. We have about thirty bikes in stock, they are in reserve. We have been trained to properly adjust the saddle for our customers. It is also designed to learn how to manage battery charge and tire pressure. We rent about 3 bikes a week. Mainly to tourists. We can also offer rent for a longer period, one week, one month. The price in this case drops to about 4-5 € per month depending on some parameters. (Editor’s note 4 € / month = 120 € / month, between 30 and 40% more expensive than specialists despite everything). You can book it online, the bike is offered in the fleet of vehicles available for rent at the Sevastopol agency.
It’s a start
Not long ago, we announced here that, in our opinion, the rue de Rivoli will become the cycling district of Paris. This branch of Sixtus is located just 100 meters from this street. 3 rental bikes per week are probably not enough to make the service profitable. On the other hand, it is necessary to give customers time to know and understand that a car rental agency is also a place where bicycles can be rented.
Perhaps the solution will be to expand the range of bikes available for rent. Cargo bikes, longtail, tandem, folding. All these specific bikes that everyday cyclists know but don’t use for … every day. Sixt is deployed in about twenty rental agencies in Paris. Why not be more ambitious? Start by deploying the 30 bikes available in 4 or 5 hypercenter agencies?
Renting is trying
The main advantage of renting is to offer a test bike for a few hours, a few days. For skeptics, this is a great way to experience life on a bike. For bikers looking for their next trip, this is the best way to check if the coveted bike is the right one. We were talking to Claire, the manager of Brompton Junction, rue de Rivoli. “At the moment, this service is not available, it is under study “. Because she tells us: “We have a real demand for tourists who love the brand who are in Paris for a few days and who want to live Paris in a Brompton.In the meantime, if you need a trailer to get around with your bike, you can find it at Kiloutou.
1 A dress for one night
2 The neighbor’s pool
3 Rent a pet
4 Paulette’s bike