Bike "Share"

It would require only the development of an internet-connected and ethereum-capable bike lock (potentially including GPS) to create a crowd-sourced by-the-hour bike rental system.

Riders could pay a small fee and a larger collateral. In exchange the bike lock would unlock for a period of time. When they locked the bike lock again, they could be refunded their collateral, less any "fines" for keeping it past its "due date." A portion could be reserved until the next rider attempted to use the bike. If this rider finds it in the correct place, and in working order, the previous rider would be be fined further. This would create incentive for the bike's owner to keep it well-maintained, as riders would be unwilling to take on this risk if it appeared that the bike was a few miles away from a popped tire or chain breakage.

If the cost of this special lock could be kept relatively small, with both the hardware and software sufficiently robust, we could have a boom of ordinary people dusting off the bikes in their garages as an investment.

What problems do you foresee in such a plan, beyond the obvious risk of the development capital for the device itself?


  • ctindallctindall Member Posts: 18
    This should read "If this rider does not find it in the correct place, and in working order, the previous rider would be be fined further."
  • DF_DF_ Member Posts: 6
    It could work, Zip car is taking off and seems to be doing well in San Diego, CA. How do you handle insurance? If you rent out your bike and someone gets hurt, you may be liable.
  • ctindallctindall Member Posts: 18
    Who's to say who the bike belongs to? As far as anybody can tell, it's just some random ETH address. Who would they sue?
  • StephanTualStephanTual London, EnglandMember, Moderator Posts: 1,282 mod
    This is very interesting.

    In the UK, public liability insurance isn't required for cyclist (it's good to have though). That said, I'm not sure about the legality of offering such as service if you do not automatically provide public liability insurance to your riders. Your legal mileage may vary based on your country.

    In London we have the famous 'Boris Bikes' and the fee you pay to use the bike includes coverage: Barclays-cycle-hire-insurance. (There's a premium of GBP 250 on these by the way, to prevent abuse).

    They solved the issue of theft by a) making the bikes look very distinctive (providing an ad platform for Barclays for good measure - see photo) b) setting the bike stands so that your card gets charged if you do not return the bike (you can't unlock without a card).

    A solution,might be to provide both theft (to protect the owner) and public liability insurance (to protect the rider) through another DAC focused on providing insurance contracts (I'm considering building something like that myself).

    Let's keep the ideas coming!
  • DF_DF_ Member Posts: 6
    January 23 Flag
    Who's to say who the bike belongs to? As far as anybody can tell, it's just some random ETH address. Who would they sue?

    The person with "incentive" to maintain the bike.
  • rdnkjdirdnkjdi Member Posts: 135 ✭✭
    edited January 2014
    The bike(s) are maintained by repair contract(s). The "incentive" person is an autonomous corporation that collects fees and offers incentives to repair and maintain its fleet in eth ... maybe?

  • DF_DF_ Member Posts: 6
    In the USA it wouldn't fly. As litigious as people are they would find a way to hold you ( or whoever last took the bike for repairs ) liable. Liability could be handled through a 3rd party DACs insurance contract, paid with a small portion of each rental fee. This could be set as an optional function of the contract when setting it up. How would the owner or rider make a claim to the insurer? This is another topic.

    Penalizing the last person to rent the bike could be problematic as a mischievous person could vandalize then report the damage.

    What fee structure would be used? Daily, hourly, distance?

  • rdnkjdirdnkjdi Member Posts: 135 ✭✭
    Thing is - I have rented crap where they say "We aren't responsible for any accidents blah blah blah"

    If you have a mobile app that allows a person to

    A - Deposit coins.
    B - Click the "I agree" waiver
    C - Check bike out. Requires GPS co-ordinates from phone - starts timer.
    D - Check bike back in. Requires photo of bike + GPS co-ordinate so mapping system knows where bike is located.

  • DF_DF_ Member Posts: 6
    User enters bikes contract ID, Mobile App autopairs to the bikes lock, accepts fees and deposit, photo and GPS coordinates sent by users mobile app to an email address registered by contract in blockchain. Funds move to escrow, optional insurance contract secured, bike unlocks.

    When the user has finished, bike is parked in public rack or safe location and locked. Mobile App sends picture and GPS coordinates to owners email. Owner reviews photos and GPS coordinates and releases deposit, claims his share from escrow. A public bonus could be offered to return the bike to its original location. Get paid to ride someones bike on your way home.

    The lock only needs bluetooth capability in this way. Tracking the bike online is not possible. Add a WiFi module and the bike can be tracked where free public internet is available only. 3G-4G modules are probably cost prohibitive.

    This method may work in some communities, but I fear your just asking to have the bike ripped in metros. The Boris Bike stand locks could be used in areas where theft is most likely.

  • ctindallctindall Member Posts: 18
    The problem with submitting the pictures and GPS for approval to the owner is that, if he doesn't approve, he gets to keep the deposit, which is presumably more than the cost of the ride.

    Also, ideally, there would be no owner, or more accurately there could be a whole gaggle of owners, each owning a few shares and getting a cut of the profits. We could let the owners vote, but then they collectively have the same incentive to cheat as a single owner does.

    Perhaps, though, renting the bike out is a hamfisted way of going about this. In an economy where transaction costs are so low, why organize the bike share as a rental relationship at all? We can talk all day about the problems in such a system, since they seem almost endless when we start talking about verifying facts about the real world, like where a bike is and if it has wheels still, especially when many parties have incentive to cheat.

    It really seems that renting things under this model is actually /harder/ than simply selling them. Give the lock the ability to either pull the blockchain from a cellular network independently or for the user to upload one to it that it can verify. There will be a contract or portion thereof that records the owner of the bike. If someone walks up to it and can prove that they have the private key for the address that owns it, it unlocks.

    This vastly simplifies the whole affair, since instead of needing a complex DAC to determine who is cheating, manage incentives, distribute profits, and everything else, we only need to verify ownership, and ethereum can do this as easily for a bike as it can for a wei.

    Whoever "owns" the bike can either keep ownership of it, or hold an auction, or, if they simply want to get rid of it again and get their capital out so they can buy a sandwich, put a price on it. You might buy a bike for the ride to work, and then sell it for a few dollars less if it's raining and you need cab fare to get home.

    The contract could even allow for groups of people who mutually trust one another to own the bike as a group, permitting anyone with control of one of a list of private keys to unlock it. Allowances could be made for kicking people out of the group, adding new members, and making making group decisions like whether or not to put the bike up for auction.

    The current owner has every incentive to keep the bike in a safe, useful location, to keep the bike in working order, and perhaps even to make improvements like adding a light, nicer deraileurs, etc, in order to realize a profit on the transaction.

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