“Rent a bike from someone like you” runs the tagline on Spinlister, an appropriately streamlined website and app that seeks to do for underused bicycles (and snowboards and surfboards) what Airbnb has done for spare rooms the world over.
Spinlister allows renters to browse a map (of New York in my case) and access pictures of both owner and cycle, with beards and folding bikes abundant. Though the public bike share system Citibike has since colonised swaths of Manhattan and spread into parts of Brooklyn, the Spinlister rides remain far cheaper if you don’t have an annual membership. They’re also scattered across sections of the city not served by the troubled dock and ride scheme.
When I meet my chosen spinlister the first thing to note about Mike E is that he’s nothing like me. I’m a sceptical Englishwoman in my 30s, nervously clutching a Department of Transport-issued helmet; he’s an upbeat Californian in his 20s who works in marketing and admissions at New York University.
Nevertheless, for $20 Mike has agreed to hand over the keys to Sasha’s several U-locks – Sasha being a black-and-red Fuji hybrid that he named in homage to Zach Braff’s moped on the TV show Scrubs. Mike bought her five years ago, having not ridden in six. It’s been 20 years since I last hopped into the saddle.