In an August report by Allstate titled “America’s Best Drivers,” Las Vegas ranked 130th out of 200 big cities based on collision claims to the insurance giant. The report indicated that our city ranks as “one of the least safe driving cities” and that “the average driver in Las Vegas will experience an auto collision every 9 years.”
On the bright side, Allstate says Las Vegas is up six spots on the list over last year, and recent Metro data indicates that overall traffic fatalities are down 21 percent. Motorcycle fatalities, however, are up. Back in mid-October, the Las Vegas Sun reported that three motorcyclists died in crashes over the course of less than two days. It spotlighted the grim statistic that from January 1 through October 1, Metro investigated 20 motorcyclist deaths, compared to 16 total in 2012 and 13 in 2011.
The same week that Sun story dropped so did coverage of Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s launch of a pilot motorcycle program in Las Vegas. The bike selection is exclusively Harley-Davidson for now, and renters must wear helmets (provided by Enterprise) and have their motorcycle endorsements, aka Class M licenses.
In Nevada, the endorsement process tests knowledge (written) and skills (on the pavement), and tests are administered either by the DMV or state-approved third-party providers that teach skills training courses. The issue of legal operation aside, statistics on motorcycle fatalities aren’t pretty. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention have labeled it “an important pubic health concern,” noting on its website that as the activity became more popular, motorcyclist deaths more than doubled between 1999 and 2008.
A couple weeks into Enterprise’s pilot motorcycle program at its branch on Flamingo Road, we had some questions about “Half the wheels. Twice the fun.” The price is advertised as $149 per day ($161 with tax), with unlimited mileage. Obviously, riding a motorcycle should be a cautious endeavor in any city, but we asked Enterprise spokesman Greg Phillips to fill us in on the company’s thought process behind the Las Vegas launch.
Why Las Vegas?
The decision was based on consumer demand and hearing from so many motorcycle enthusiasts that wanted an option to rent when they’re away from home, and Vegas being that perfect opportunity because there are so many places and nearby attractions to get out to, to see—kind of endless, really, in Vegas. So that was really the genesis of why that market.
Even with heightened safety concerns?
We see, obviously, a very increased interest in motorcycle ridership, and as a part of that, like I said, many of our customers wanted that option. They’re familiar with renting from us … and they like the customer experience that they have, and so they wanted us to be able to enter into motorcycle rental as well. Obviously we’re just going to encourage all of our riders to take as many appropriate safety precautions as they can when riding and, per the Nevada state law, we’re going to help facilitate that motorcycle helmet law and provide helmets for all riders there free of charge.
How has the program been going so far?
A lot of interest, steady rental on top of more reservation interest for the future, and kind of what I alluded to earlier, seeing a lot of feedback from folks that are very happy to have Enterprise as an option into the motorcycle space now because they are familiar with renting from us for so many years and they love that experience and they know that we can bring that customer experience to motorcycle, as well.
Are there any plans to expand beyond Harley to other brands?
We’re looking to get consumer feedback from this early on experience and make our decisions for any possible expansion, whether that’s expansion of fleet or expansion of locations based on how that pilot program goes.
It appears that Enterprise is the first big auto-rental company to move into the motorcycle market in the U.S. What motivated the decision to be the first and deal with the challenges that come with it?
We listened to our customers and heard a stronger demand for motorcycle rental in recent years. We’ve found that the demographics of motorcycle owners and Enterprise renters matches up well, and given our experience in four-wheeled rentals, offering motorcycle rental was a natural evolution of our business.