A bike rental or bike hire business is a bike shop or other business that rents bikes for short periods of time (usually for a few hours) for a fee. Most rentals are provided by bicycle shops as a sideline to their main businesses of sales and service, but some shops specialize in rentals.
As with car rental, bike rental shops primarily serve people who don't have access to a vehicle, typically travellers and particularly tourists. Specialized bike rental shops thus typically operate at beaches, parks, or other locations that tourists frequent. The fees are set to encourage renting the bikes for a few hours at a time, rarely more than a day.
Bicycle sharing systems provide access to vehicles for a short period of time; that is they rent bikes. They have distinctive access schemes; some provide free access to members and others charge a monthly or yearly fee. Some schemes operate stations across an entire city, serve members only, and are targeted to commuters. A user can purchase a yearly or monthly pass that provides access to a bike with a smart card. Most such systems allow a member to sign out a bike from any station for up to half an hour of free use, enough for most commuters to travel to their destination where they can drop off the bike at any station. Many bike sharing schemes start charging fees after the first free half hour in order to dissuade tourists or other casual users.