Spin Test Update

Spin Test Update

Last week I downloaded the Spin Bike app from Google apps to my phone. It downloaded quickly. Today I am testing it out on a trip downtown to meet a friend at Seattle Center. As a happy side note the bus I am on is populated by folks from Vashon Island who have just reported an Orca sighting near the ferry terminal.  I text my husband and he is able to get down to the water in time to see them swimming north.

I am a little worried I won’t be able to test because I see less Spin (orange bikes) than the other 2 companies as I travel around Seattle. Even though nowhere in the sign up process etc do I see anything about wear a helmet I have clipped my helmet to my bag so I have one along.

I get off the Metro bus at 3rd and Vine and my heart jumped when I saw three bikes parked near the coffee shop and one was the desired Orange Spin bike.

Orange spin bike in sight

I opened the app, scanned the code and the lock on the rear wheel unlocked. A brief message about staying safe and wearing a helmet flashed on my phone. I hopped on and rode the few blocks to Seattle Center. A first ride of 6 minutes. My first five rides (within the first week) were free so it didn’t matter that it was a short one. Otherwise it would have been a charge of $1. The bikes only have three speeds so serious uphills would be out of the question for me. It is relatively comfortable although the basket moving around with the front wheel gives me an odd feeling but is a convenient place to put the large bag I have brought along.

When I pull up to the Center meeting spot I park it in a corner near some tables out of the way of foot traffic. I figure out how to lock the back wheel which officially ends my ride. A successful trip. I will be curious to hear the ridership levels from this dock free bike experiment.

When I see my niece on Christmas Eve she tells me Spin is her chosen mode of transport. Have you tried any bike share programs? How did they work out?

Spin away

OK I will confess that I haven’t actually tried it but I am hearing a lot of complaints from friends and neighbors about the bikes scattered around the city. It sounds like we were the first city to try the dockless system and now other cities are coming on board. The complaints I hear are that the bikes are littering the city and everyone that complains somehow believes the city of Seattle has put money into this system. People are also concerned that riders are going without helmets (which could set us up for a lawsuit or higher health care costs). It was my understanding that the city was allowing the bike shares to operate and was forgiving taxes on revenue generated. I will now try to poke around and find the real story and simplify it. This may take a few blog posts.

When I go to the city website  it sounds like this has been a pilot program scheduled to end at the end of this month (so if I’m going to try it I better get moving). When all the data is collected the city will make a recommendation to move forward.
You can view the permit requirements for the bike companies here.

There are a lot of common sense requirements that put the onus for bike parking, helmets and complaints on the bike share companies with the City of Seattle able to recoup costs of handling problems. It also requires a lot of data points be reported and reportable to the City. Here is the section on fees:

Requirement F1: Applicants shall pay $146 for an Annual Permit for the pilot bicycle share program. Noteif any stations or other structures are proposed, each site shall require additional review deposits andpermitting.
Requirement F2: Applicants shall pay SDOT’s Street Use division $209 for every hour of permit review andinspection needed. Estimated times for reviewing pilot bicycle share permits is eight hours; therefore,upon submitting an application, applicants shall pay $1,672 to Street Use. Any time not used shall bereimbursed to the applicant and any additional time shall be billed, upon permit closure.
Requirement F3: Applicants shall pay a program administrative fee of $15/bike to SDOT’s Transit &Mobility Division for the administrative time during pilot permit program.
Requirement F4: Any fees arising from the need for City crews to relocate or remove bicycles from anylocation where a bicycle is prohibited under this permit (Requirement O12) shall equal the City crews’hourly rate plus fifteen percent.

So in answer to comments about the city putting money into the system it doesn’t seem like that is the case. The city does provide public space to park these.

Nor does it seem like the city would be liable for helmet less riders.

Now let’s check out the actual bike share companies. I plan to sign up for one a week and try them out to see if I am receiving all the information I am supposed to regarding parking, reporting, location and maintenance. I am starting with Spin. I go to Spin’s website  and I see an option to ride spin for $1 per half hour or to become a member ($29 per month or $99 per year). This would entitle me to ride an unlimited amount of 30 minute or less rides. After 30 minutes I am charged the usual $1 per half hour.

Spin is a Delaware corporation based in San Fransisco. To use it you must have a mobile phone with the app loaded on it and internet connectivity. The fine print states users may be charged a refundable security deposit. There is also a section on damages.” User agrees to return the Spin Bike to Spin in the same condition in which it was rented. Until the Spin Bike is locked, the User shall be responsible for loss and damage to the bike. User will not be responsible for normal wear and tear.”
There is also a LOT of other fine print including the ability for Spin to bill you if you park the bike somewhere inappropriate. When I try to go to the referred to web page with rules I am simply sent back to the home page. Nowhere in the fine print do I see anything about the City of Seattle’s helmet laws and regulations.

In preparing to download the app I see that users of the app don’t especially like it and of course I am required to hand over control of my phone and lots of privacy settings (like most apps). It installs fairly quickly. It prompted me to scan my ride and did not guide me to set up a payment account. I assumed I would need it so I entered it even though I always hate having any financial information in yet another place. So tomorrow I will go for my first ride (if I can find a Spin bike). More next time.

How do you plan your rides?

While doing some online exploring looking for great bike rides I came across this fairly unique idea for mapping a ride.

If you don’t have time to check out the link, it describes a Perth man with some time on his hands as well as a creative thought process who mapped out a ride on Strava using a picture of a goat as a template to set way points and map his ride. He then went out and rode it. It took seven hours, 126 miles and had 5786 feet of climbing.

I will need a little more time on my hands to plot my bike route that way (as well as more training to complete that goat ride) but maybe in the near future………… For now I use my knowledge of where I am  along with Google’s maps app set on bicycling. I have also had some success with Ride with GPS.  My favorite rides are the ones where I don’t have to think too much and can just ride. Long country roads with no stop lights and light traffic fill my dreams of the ideal bike ride. I especially love bike rides someone else has planned and I just make the turns when told by the arrows on the road.

Where do you like to ride and how do you plan it?