Bike Share or Bike Rental? Tips for Exploring San Francisco

Bike Share or Bike Rental? Tips for Exploring San Francisco

San Francisco is calling you. Although anyone could discover Chinatown, see Sausalito or cross the Golden Gate Bridge by car, you want to make your experience authentic — You’re going to tackle the city on two wheels. The only problem is that you’re not quite sure which kind of bicycle to go with when you walk past the bike sharing stations on city streets.

While hopping on the nearest San Francisco bike share might seem like a convenient option, there are plenty of reasons why visitors are better off booking their self-propelled rides with a rental agency that caters to the needs of visitors. Bike share is for under one hour, short trips for transportation. The fees for bike share are constructed to be affordable to almost free for around 30 minutes. Over that, riders will pay exorbitantly in overage charges for what could’ve been a very affordable bike rental.

Here’s what to know about bike rental in San Francisco.

Renting vs. Bike Sharing: A Quick Visitor’s Guide

Bay Area bike share and rental companies both let you enjoy cycling in San Francisco without having to change your own flat tires, so what’s the big difference? These options are for distinct kinds of riders, and their features show it:

Riding to Work vs. Riding for Pleasure

San Francisco bike sharing providers work to serve the needs of regular commuters. Bike share is for last mile transportation – to connect your bus stop to the front door of your job and vice versa. Although they do a pretty good job, they primarily offer workhorse bikes intended for short trips from one place to another — not lengthy sightseeing excursions. Bike rental is for trips an hour or longer, recreation and sightseeing.

Renting a bike lets you spend more time exploring, and you tend to get better value for your money the longer you stay out. Unlike the bikes at sharing stations, you can also select from a range of models, so no more hunching over in agony if you’re particularly tall.

Staying Safe

Bay Area bike share equipment isn’t the most trouble-free option for those unfamiliar with the city. You won’t get a helmet unless you’ve brought one with you, and if you take a wrong turn, you’re mostly on your own. And it certainly isn’t safe for children or babies.

Bike rentals let you focus on the highlights of your adventure. The bikes don’t take daily abuse from commuters trying to dodge traffic, so they’re well maintained and unlikely to break down. You even get a helmet with every rental, which makes it easier to comply with California’s under-18 headgear laws. Having a professional guide is also a plus — You’re less likely to make a mistake when you’re riding with an expert.

Charting Your Own Course

Bike share bikes are made for locals, and they’re one-size-fits-all. For instance, families that want to see the sights with children or babies aren’t guaranteed to find bikes that accommodate them. There’s also no guarantee that the destinations you’d love to visit will be near rideshare points. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, bike share used long-term as recreation will cost a fortune in overages! Compared with the low cost of a bike rental there is no comparison.

Renting a bike lets you access equipment tailored to your preferred style of tourism. Since each rental includes a U-Lock, you can safely get off, walk around and hop back on at your convenience. San Francisco is best experienced at your own pace, and bike rentals help you set the agenda with route assistance, customized maps and local operators who are always standing by to help — never call center agents.

Make Your San Francisco Trip More Enjoyable

It’s simple: bike share is for transposition and bike rental is for recreation. Bike share is for under one hour, and bike rental is for an hour or more. Leaving your hotel for a carton of milk? Sure, use bike share. Exploring Golden Gate Park, the beach and/or the Golden Gate Bridge? Bike rental is the way to go.

By helping people stay fit and reducing vehicle pollution, bike shares play an essential part in keeping the Bay Area beautiful and fun. If you’re a visitor, however, you deserve an alternative that is more geared toward your needs.

Rentals by Bay City Bikes make it more fun to get acquainted with one of America’s greatest cities. With real bike lovers staffing each of our locations, it’s never been easier to start your trip off right and enjoy it the whole way through. Plan your next trip by getting in touch today.

Sebastian LeFleur

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