Going on a vacation and traveling by bike is a unique experience that can make trips exciting. But if you plan to tour with a bicycle, you need to know how to do so safely. You should also consider other key aspects of bike renting, such as bike type, wheel size, and city parking.
How to Rent a Bike in a New City or Country
Renting a bicycle can be intimidating for first-timers, but it’s much easier to rent a bike than it is to rent a car. Here are 5 things you should consider before you navigate your first bike rental.
1. Bike Type, Size, and Payment
When choosing which bike to rent, consider where you’ll ride it first. Road bikes are best for smooth payment, city and cruiser bikes are suitable for casual riders, and hybrid bikes can operate on roads and trails. All of these bike types come in various shapes, colors, and sizes.
Payment may differ depending on the company, but most rentals charge an hourly or daily fee. You can either pick up and drop off the bike at a charging hub or a physical location. Renters can make reservations online and reserve a pickup if they want to pay with cash instead of card.
2. Local Bicycle Safety Laws
Most bicycle safety laws will apply no matter where you go. For example, you should wear a helmet, use hand signals, and bike in the same direction as traffic. However, the type of hand signals you’ll use and when you should yield will depend on the country and nearby street signs.
The majority of bicycle accidents occur when you’re crossing a vehicle’s path, so you should consider wearing visible, reflective clothing at night. Be alert to traffic at all times and never cut off another vehicle or make sudden movements, as you’re more likely to get seriously injured.
3. Rental Shop vs. Online Rental
As mentioned, renters have the choice to visit a rental shop or rent a bicycle online, but which option provides the most benefits. Going into a shop can be advantageous for casual cyclists, as the owner can suggest specific tours, bikes, and gear and answer any questions you have.
On the other hand, renting a bike online is the perfect option for tourists who’ve already dealt with the same bike shop, know the area, or already have a bicycle type in mind. Online rentals can be convenient for busy or impulsive travelers that just want to pick up their bike and go.
4. Mapping Routes and Weather
Most countries will allow you to bike on the street with other drivers, but you may not be too comfortable with that. Fortunately, plenty of bicycle-friendly cities have hundreds of bike paths, trails, and parks where you’ll be safe from traffic (or at least limit your exposure to vehicles).
Whether you’re on the road or on a trail, always pay attention to the weather. Heavy rain or snowfall can limit your visibility. Drivers may not be able to see you, so install flashing lights on your bike if you’re adamant about cycling. Watch for black ice and potholes during the winter.
5. Bicycle Parking and Treatment
Planning on biking in harsh weather conditions? You might want to think otherwise if you want to avoid a hefty repair or cleaning fee. A damaged rental can cost you hundreds of dollars; some even have to pay for a whole new bike, so always treat rental bikes like they’re your own.
With that said, you wouldn’t park your bike without a lock, so don’t do the same for your rental. If you’re using a regular bike, hook it to a bike rack, a designated bicycle pot, or somewhere else secure. Unfortunately, e-bikes must be parked at a charging station to avoid paying idling fees.