A semi rolled to a stop in front of my house yesterday. It was pulling a partial load of roofing singles, two pallets of which are intended to replace those torn away off our roof last month by 125mph winds. Then a week later, it was pummeled by pea-sized to golf ball-sized hail stones that came in two waves.
The driver who offloaded the pallets with a 3-wheeled forklift, explained he'd really been busy the last month - I'll bet. Shingles went flying off roofs all over Sarpy County. My neighborhood was also without power for more than 41 hours. It's been an interesting summer so far.
As he unstrapped the pallets, the driver, a guy in a mid-40s I'd guess, explained that like a lot of construction jobs, things turn pretty slow for him come winter, so last year he decided to start a little side business. He'd install Christmas lights on homes. He goal was 20 homes. He ended up doing 63, he told me.
His remarks helped catalyzed an idea for me. I'd watched an episode of The List this week where they talked about peer-to-peer rentals of everything from motorboats, which typical sit unused 90+ percent of the time, to fancy RVs with a similar non-usage pattern.
Why not electric-assist bikes?
As you're probably aware if you've been following my blogs, Quikbyke recently shipped our prototype "popup-rental-shop-in-a-box" to Florida's Space Coast for phase two of our technical and consumer trials. That leaves me here in Omaha with the task of marketing and looking to raise our next seed round of capital. It also leaves me with four electric-assist bikes that I've acquired over the years as the editor of EV World.com. The oldest and most powerful of the quartet is a TidalForce M750 with a 750W motor and NiMH batteries. The lightest and least powerful is my custom K15 with its 250W all-in-one Bike+ pedelec motor.While I sent five of our Quikbyke 300W ProdecoTech bikes to Florida with the Qiosk, I kept the original demonstrator model - pictured above. The most recent addition to my "collection", courtesy of Falco eMotors, is a prototype with their 500W hub motor, successor to the M750. It's the bike I ride the most for running errands around town.
I thought to myself, if that semi-driver can start a business putting up holiday lights and triple his original goal, why not see what happens if I offer to rent - peer-to-peer - the bikes. I have the perfect location to ride them. We're block off of Papillion and the Papio NRD's trail system. One ride, see the maps below, is 5 miles and about 30 minutes around the Walnut Creek lake. The other ride is 10 miles and about an hour that includes the lake and a two mile stretch of West Papio Creek. Both are wonderful rides on wide, safe, segregated walking/biking trails. I've ridden them both many times… well the 5-mile one, at least.
I should note that both the Papio NRD and State of Nebraska permit, by policy and law, the riding of electric-assist bicycles on their respective trail systems. The governor signed the bill into law in late February 2015.
Taking my experience with Quikbyke's first summer of operation, I priced the rental on a half-hour and hourly basis. This morning I posted the service on Craigslist under three different categories, hoping to improve the chances of it being seen. Here's one of those links: http://omaha.craigslist.org/evs/6227909892.html.
I have no idea if anyone will respond, but it's certainly worth the try. I want more people to enjoy the eBike experience and do so in a beautiful, semi-rural location that is safely away from traffic. I'll let you know how it goes, IF it goes.
Posted By: Bill Moore [20-Jul-2017]
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