Eight bikes sit at the hub in front of Sunset Pier at Ocean Key Resort, but they aren’t just any bikes on a rack, they are instabikes. With two minutes and a couple clicks in an app, walkers can become riders with ease. Celebrating its year anniversary in Key West, owners Capt. Sean Blaise and wife Amanda are hoping the new year will bring more bikes and hubs to Key West.
“We hit a couple road blocks along the way,” said Sean, who has been in front of the city commission and planning board several times in the past year. “But, we are working on more stations and racks in Old Town.”
The two conceived of the idea when visiting, out-of-town friends wanted to rent bikes but soon ran into trouble — delays for drop off and pick up, then subpar quality. Then the Blaises discovered instabike in Orlando.
The idea is that a person can charge $8 to a credit card and use the bikes as needed throughout the day. A ride from Ocean Key Resort to Southernmost Beach Resort would leave money on the account to use again, but the nice thing is the person could just leave the bike locked there and have lunch and return to pedal later … or not. “You only pay as you pedal,” said Sean. “Trips are pro-rated to the minute.”
At the moment, the only hub is at Sunset Pier on private property, but the app allows users to search for the nearest bike not in use. Sean said he has more hubs planned for Smathers Beach, Mel Fisher’s Museum, Sloppy Joe’s, Bourbon Street Pub, and Southernmost Point and are awaiting approval from the City of Key West. The bikes are even equipped with lights that turn on automatically for night riding.
“The city manager had been directed with moving this and other bike share business forward,” said Key West Mayor Craig Cates. “I hope to see these businesses in operation very soon.”
Sean said, “The long term advantage is it’s another alternative for a congested area.”
instabike also offers locals a $25-a-month program which includes a one-hour commute per day, and an $18 per day rate for others, or the popular hourly rates (some bikers can make it around the entire island in an hour!). “The instructions are right on the bike,” said Sean. “It’s a national system, like Uber, so we have a lot of people from progressive cities like New York who already know how it works. In two minutes, you’re riding.”
To learn more, visit intabikekeywest.com.