5 Tips for Bike Curious Hotels & Airbnb Hosts

 I was interviewed for Momentum Magazine's Travel issue (March 2015) on what makes a hotel bike-friendly. Click image for article link.

I was interviewed for Momentum Magazine's Travel issue (March 2015) on what makes a hotel bike-friendly. Click image for article link.

With National Bike Month (May) right around the corner, now is the perfect time for curious lodging to make the leap into the bike tourism community.  Its all about the experience these days and nothing simultaneously gives the gift of elation, independence, efficient sightseeing and adventure like the bike does. Here are 5 tips on how you can differentiate yourself by providing guests with an experience of a lifetime via the bicycle.

Tips for Bike Curious Lodging

1. Bikes

There are 2 different options for providing bikes for guests: 

Option One: Fleet of Bikes

By purchasing a fleet of bikes, you'll have a wonderful opportunity to showcase your brand through custom decals and/or style of bike. Kimpton Hotels, a national boutique hotel chain, provides two complimentary Public Bikes at every location and they are always parked front and center in the lobby or valet court for guests to see as they come and go.

The sky is the limit in terms of how much you can spend, but if you decide to provide fleet bikes, we recommend the following at a bare minimum:

  • Frame style - City, Dutch or cruiser frames are great because of their upright and relaxed posture. These styles give the rider better visibility and promotes a casual, slow experience. Step through or women's frames are preferable for ease in mounting and dismounting the bike.
  • Cargo capacity - People have stuff and need to carry it on their bike somehow. A front basket or rear rack with a basket is perfect. Your local retailers will also thank you for enabling your guests to shop!
  • Lights - Having lights on bikes is the law for all states and provinces. Riding at night gives people a totally different and exhilarating experience not to be missed. You never want to force guests to leave that amazing meal they are enjoying, just to ensure that they return before sunset.
  • Fenders & Chain Guards - Bikes should accommodate whatever style of dress the rider prefers, and not the other way around. Fenders and chain guards will prevent puddles, road dirt and chain grease from getting on your guests' clothing.
  • Locks - Protect your bikes from theft and give guests more freedom to stop for food, shopping or sightseeing by providing locks. We recommend u-locks because cables are easily cut.

Most of the hotels and airbnb hosts listed in our directory provide complimentary bikes and a few bulk up their inventory in the summer by partnering with a local bike rental provider. Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge, MA obtains an additional 20 bikes from local outfitter, Urban Adventours.

option two: Bikeshare

By last count, there are 32 cities in North America with bikeshare. Bikeshare is a convenient bike lending system where people can grab a bike, ride to their destination, and return it at a different station. All share bikes are designed for comfort and functionality with generator lights, storage for your bag or purse, fenders and chain guards to keep your clothes clean and lastly, a universal step through frame.

You will want to ensure there is a station near your location, but by simply providing guests with free bikeshare vouchers (contact local bikeshare office for partnership details), you don't need to purchase the bikes and your guests can use a functional city bike. HotelRED in Madison is one hotel that provides free B-cycle vouchers for guests.

Weakness - Bikeshare is not the best for families because they have age restrictions and no accommodations for little ones.

2. Bikeable Location

We at Bikabout often do focus groups and ask the question, "What is your idea of the perfect bike ride?" In no order, here are the attributes that make a perfect bike ride:

  • Water views
  • Scenery
  • Iconic landmarks
  • Ice cream
  • Beer
  • Trees
  • Green spaces
  • Neighborhoods
  • Trails or paths (away from cars)
  • Local restaurants

An easy way to check your location's bikeability is to visit Walkscore.com, enter your address and view your bike score. Anything higher than 70 is good. You can also open Google Maps with the biking overlay. The more dark green lines (protected bikeways) around you, the better.

If you want to see your street or area get safer, get in touch with local advocates - they would love to know your desire to support protected bikeways!

3. Maps

 Your city's bike department will mail you oodles of the local bike map for free, simply by requesting them.

Your city's bike department will mail you oodles of the local bike map for free, simply by requesting them.

Because biking in the city is very different than driving and walking, offering a map that clearly labels dedicated bike routes will help your guests navigate the city safely and comfortably. If they prefer their phones, make sure they know that mobile Google Maps now offers biking directions.

City Maps

Most cities produce a bike map and have plenty to hand out for free. It just takes one simple phone call or email and they will mail you some! See Bikabout's city guides for direct links to request city maps.

Custom Bikabout Maps

For $500 annually ($250 each for more than 3 locations per city), Bikabout will curate maps that will take your guests out your front door on the best possible bike ride filled with local eats, drinks and sights! You can also get these printed on durable, waterproof material to mount to the handlebars for $15 per map. Please refer to our business membership package for additional benefits and inquiry.

4. Concierge & Valet

Want to wow your guests by going above and beyond? Here are a few examples of what the most bike-friendly hotels are doing to make their guests' experience first class:

  • Bike valet / concierge
  • Repair station or free tune-ups
  • Washing station
  • Secure, covered bike parking
  • Sidewalk parking near main entrance
  • Allowing guests to bring their personal bikes in their rooms
  • Sponsoring an on site bikeshare station
  • Custom picnic basket
  • Guided bike tours

5. Communicate your bike friendliness

When our family first started taking urban biking vacations, it was sometimes impossible to figure out whether a hotel or airbnb provided bikes for guests. If you're providing an amazing amenity, make sure to let people know about it!

Hotels

First, is your hotel listed on Bikabout's lodging directory? We'll list you for free, so let us know the details (megan@bikabout.com). Second, make sure your website lists bikes under amenities. Third, host an event for the local community, perhaps during May Bike Month. Last year, Hotel Marlowe hosted "Pimp My Ride" with free snacks, smoothies, bicycle tune-ups and yoga for local residents and hotel guests.

Airbnb

As a host, the easiest way to set yourself apart as bike friendly is to include key words in the property title like "bikeable," "bikeshare," "free bike," etc. You can also include the bike and walkscores (Walkscore.com) in the details. If you would like to be added to our airbnb Pinterest boards, please send an email to megan@bikabout.com.

For Airbnb corporate, please consider adding the following filters for properties:

  • Walk, bike and transit scores
  • Distance to bikeshare station - use O'brien maps for GIS data
  • Amenity checkbox for hosts to declare that they offer bikes for guests

lodging directory

bikabout members

As a member, you will get custom, curated bike maps that will take your guests on the most scenic, tasty and experiential bike ride right out your front door. Member hotels are also prioritized in our lodging directory.

Alexandria

Baltimore

Cambridge

Chicago

Madison

Minneapolis

Washington