Sharing. It’s a concept that has been instilled in us since we were tiny. And while sharing used to fall generally into the realm of good manners or kind behavior (except for when we “shared” our Barbie doll with an older brother who then proceeded to give her a buzz cut!), it has today taken on a far more commercial meaning.
With companies like Rent the Runway, Uber and Spotify flooding the market, modern society ostensibly has relinquished some of its desire to maintain exclusive ownership of everyday items. The option to share allows for greater ease of use and, perhaps more importantly, a discounted cost. We can see this concept coming alive in Nashville with greater benefit to the city in terms of health and transit.
Launched in December 2012, Nashville B-cycle continues to offer a simple and convenient way for Nashvillians to get around town, which we love, considering the influx of traffic these days! The red bikes have baskets for storage, adjustable seats, automatic lights and three gear speeds—a simple and efficient alternative transportation method. The service is designed for short-term, quick trip usage, making it easy to hop on a bike on a regular basis. With 30 different stations throughout Nashville’s neighborhoods and commercial areas, they are fairly accessible to all. (Check out the station map to find the closest one to your office or home.)
Somewhat intimidated, a friend and I wanted to try out the B-cycles, but we weren’t entirely sure what to do. Discovering that there was a bike rental in our area, we walked down to the B-cycle rack in Hillsboro Village to learn how this bike-sharing service works. We’ve condensed the experience here to make it easier for others who may be interested in taking their first spin around Music City on a B-cycle bike. Here’s what you need to know:
How to Use B-cycle
1. Find a bike rack near you (click here for a map), and bring your credit/debit card for rental. (SB Tip: B-cycle doesn’t take American Express.)
We didn’t know exactly where we were going and got a little confused by which bikes we were looking for. (Just FYI, you want the red ones.) We also didn’t discuss ahead of time who was bringing their credit card and realized when we finally got to the bike rack that neither of us had brought one. Oy. Cue the do-over. On the second try, with an exact bike rack location in mind and credit card in hand, we were ready for step two.
2. Purchase a membership at the station or online.
As we had already walked to the bike rack, back home and then back to the bike rack, we opted to purchase the membership at the bike station. Membership options include daily ($5), weekly ($10), monthly ($15) and yearly ($50), all of which are available online. However, if purchasing a membership at the station, the only option is the daily. Since we only wanted to try it for the day, it worked out perfectly for us to get the 24-hour, $5 option.
3. Choose your bike.
When you buy your membership, select a bike dock number to check out (make sure there is a bike in the dock!). The station will unlock the bike you select, beeping until the bike is removed (and it’s louder than you think).
4. Start riding!
Ah, the fun part! And it’s all absolutely worth the joy of swinging your leg over the seat and finding your balance on two wheels.
5. Return the bike to any station.
No, your bike does NOT have to go back to the rack where you originally got it. You can ride all the way across town, leave the bike at the nearest rack to your destination and be on your merry way. Rentals require an hourly check-in as part of the “sharing” experience. As long as the bike is back within one hour of checking it out, you won’t be charged anything extra. For every extra 30 minutes you have the bike checked out, however, it will cost you $1.50 (this maxes out at $45 a day). If you go to return your bike and the rack is full, don’t panic. Follow the instructions on the kiosk and it will help you locate the next nearest rack, giving you an extra 15 minutes to get it there in time. If you fail to return the bike after 24 hours, it is considered stolen, and you will be charged a replacement fee, which is more than $1,200. So be sure to get your bike back on time!
Additional pointers to enhance your experience:
- The hourly check-in is designed to ensure that everyone gets a fair opportunity to ride. While it sounds like a bit of a hassle, it wasn’t bad. Take our experience for example. We rented bikes at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday. We rode around until 6:15 p.m. Friday evening and then returned the bikes to the Hillsboro Village rack. Saturday morning around 10 a.m. (still within our 24-hour rental time), we went back to the Hillsboro Village station, took out another bike (by swiping the same credit card), rode to the Belle Meade Publix, parked our bikes at the greenway station there, and we went grocery shopping. We then went back to the conveniently located station, re-checked out our bikes, rode them home, dropped off the groceries and then rode the bikes to the Hillsboro Village station to dock. After lunch, we went back to the bike station and rode around the neighborhood for an hour or so. Four different trips, all for $5—such a great deal!
- Membership is meant for persons 18 years and older with a valid credit card. However, bikes can be checked out to minors, as long as the member ensures they follow the B-cycle rules.
- The bikes are designed for persons 5 feet to 6 feet, 5 inches tall.
- If you are returning within your membership period to rent a bike for a second time, select “No” when asked if you want to buy a new membership, follow the prompts and swipe with the SAME credit card you used to originally purchase the membership.
- BYOH (Bring Your Own Helmet) to stay safe while cruising around town!
- If you go over the 60-minute ride time during your 24-hour membership period, a $1.50 usage fee is applied for every 30 minutes you go over, so plan your rides accordingly.
We hope this inspires you to get out and explore the city on two wheels. B-cycle makes it easy, perhaps as easy as riding the bike itself!
While you’re out and about on your new red ride, be sure to stop by some of the shops and restaurants found on the StyleBlueprint App. Download today to stay in the loop about the hottest places around town!
And, if you’re reading this and haven’t subscribed to StyleBlueprint yet, do it! Just click that box below.