Bicycling is the best way to see a city.
If you agree with that statement, you'll want to sign up with liquid.com. It's a new worldwide network of bike owners and would-be bike renters that seeks to connect the two groups with an ease never before attained. Through Liquid, bike owners rent their bikes to travelers, cyclists, and even bike-less locals that are just looking to get in a bit of exercise or exploration time in over 400 cities in 80 countries.
The initiative launched in New York City and San Francisco last April, and in September it started a national beta program.
How it works: Kind of like traveler-favorite Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO). Bike owners fill out a few details on the bike they are willing to rent out, submit photos of the sweet chariot, and in 24 to 48 hours, after Liquid checks for quality, price, and accuracy, the bike is ready for rent. You earn a little cash (bike rentals seem to run anywhere from $10 to $50 on the site) and help out one of your tribe. Bike renters search online by location, bike size, and type to get a list of available rides nearby. From there, a renter makes a request from the lister and asks any questions he or she might have. Once the lister approves the request, it's a match made in bicycle heaven.
A recent search for Hartford, Connecticut, and San Francisco, California, yielded lots to choose from, though bike rental choices in Burlington, Vermont, brought back just one result. Like couchsurfing.org, which connects travelers with a free bed and possibly a tour guide, or VRBO, the options are only as good as the participants.
So add your bike to the virtual fleet, and when you're on the road, take someone else's wheels for a spin.