News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 9 to 10 a.m.

The Wheel Thing: Where are motorcycles in the ride sharing economy?

Listen to story

Download this story 7.0MB

Uber and Lyft have become regular options for many people who need to travel across town, or to an airport. But what if you are a person who likes rolling on two wheels, rather than four?

So far, no one in the U.S. has been able to make a go of a ride-hailing service that uses motorcycles, even though getting places by motorbike is often the quickest way to navigate congested urban areas. Insurance and liability pose problems, and perhaps the idea of wrapping your arms around a stranger's waist is limiting demand.

But some companies are trying to make a business out of peer-to-peer motorcycle rentals. In this case, you rent a bike from a private owner, use it for a while and return it. Generally, insurance is included in the deal, and the broker company makes sure the bike is mechanically safe and sound, and that the rental rider has a clean operating record.

One such service is launching this weekend in LA. It's called Riders Share and it puts together owners with bikes and riders who need some wheels. Our motor critic and motorcyclist Susan Carpenter thinks it could be a good way to pick up some bucks if you aren't using your bike, provided said bike isn't a high end machine (she rides an old dirt bike and says it's a good candidate for rental.)

Still, in an era where there is an Uber for anything, it's interesting that no one has been able to tailor a business that uses motorcycles to get people quickly to urban destinations. One might imagine a firm that specializes in whisking important business executives and other VIPs quickly across town on the back of big, comfortable touring bikes.  Entrepreneurs, take note. If the traffic in places like LA and San Francisco gets even marginally worse, suddenly this might look like a viable business plan.

You care about today's news. And you're not alone.

Join others who support independent journalism.