Scooter rentals will open up island to visitors

Bainbridge Scooter Rental owner Don Linrothe offers scooter rentals at the ReMax office near the ferry terminal. The 49cc machines are available to individuals over the age of 18 with a valid driver’s license.

As the sun begins to peel away the clouds, more visitors will make their way to the island. They tour downtown and check out some of Winslow’s shops and restaurants. But if they are on foot, where can they go from there?

Bainbridge is about 28 square miles of land, with attractions branching out to all corners of the island – making it too large an area for most people to walk.

Short of public transportation, the option for most visitors, or residents who don’t feel like driving, is limited to bicycles.

But visitors, and residents, have a new option to get around Bainbridge: scooters.

Bainbridge Island Scooter Rental opened less than a month ago, just in time for the summer season.

Owner Don Linrothe said he decided to start a rental scooter business following travels to areas like Thailand and Mexico that rely heavily on scooters as a means of transportation.

“Scooters are a huge part of transportation infrastructure there,” he said. “It’s really an efficient way to get around.”

After consulting with scooter rental shops nearby, primarily in the San Juan Islands, Linrothe decided to start the business last winter, with the hope that he would be ready to go by the summer.

Linrothe, who works as an airline pilot, has five 49cc scooters for rent. They can only go up to 35 mph, so they aren’t allowed on State Road 305 or other highways, but they get upwards of 100 miles per gallon of gasoline.

Linrothe is targeting the tourism market, particularly the thousands of people who disembark cruise ships in Seattle every week. But he has also received interest from islanders looking for a fun way to get around Bainbridge.

Only a few weeks in, Linrothe doesn’t have a store front. He keeps the scooters at the ReMax real estate office near the ferry terminal. At this point, potential customers can call him and he’ll make the trip to Olympic Drive and set everything up. He doesn’t need much advance warning either.

“Fifteen minutes,” Linrothe said about the time he needs to get to the “office” and get people on their way.

Linrothe hopes that his business can unlock areas of the island only accessible to visitors by car, or a long bike ride. Many of Bainbridge’s greatest attractions – the Grand Forest, Lynwood Center, the Japanese American Memorial Exclusion Wall, among others, – are all several miles away from Winslow.

“I really thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice for them to have a means to see our island?’ They might be interested in seeing some of the more historical stuff. There’s really no access to those things.”

The business will be geared primarily toward the summer months, when Bainbridge sees it greatest number of visitors. Linrothe said he will be available for rentals during other parts of the year, but from a safety aspect he doesn’t recommend taking scooters out in the winter.

“If it’s pouring rain outside I really don’t want people out there riding on them, just from a safety standpoint,” he said. “I really don’t think anyone’s going to rent them then anyway. When the sun comes out, I find the phone starts to ring.”

Something else might make the phone ring – gas prices. With the summer months traditionally leading to higher prices, scooters and their high mileage present a good alternative. As an incentive to rent, Linrothe doesn’t require renters to fill the tank before returning the scooters.

Linrothe’s rental requirements include: users 18 or older, with a valid driver’s license and in good health. The weight limit on the scooters is 220 pounds.

The business is still in its infancy, but Linrothe said if things go well this summer he may expand to a total of eight scooters. Should the business become a success he may contemplate moving into a store. But Linrothe prefers that the business remains a personal hobby.

“I’m trying to keep it on the small side,” he said. “I don’t want it to own me. It’s something fun to do and provide for the people.”

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Get your scooters

Scooters can be rented for two hours ($30), four hours ($50) or eight hours ($75). The only ways to rent scooters are to call Linrothe at (206) 251-3798 or email, info@biscooters.com. For more information visit the company’s website.

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