Bicycles for guests

I know the liability for offering a guest a bicycle is not covered in my insurance. That’s not good and I don’t want to run afoul of that. But I’ve let one guest use my bicycle and she loved it. So I bought a couple more and I’m not sure how to present them to guests as a travel alternative? I’m not even sure I will. A friend of mine, an attorney, owns a home in a resort area and he has bicycles. His solution is to leave it to the guest as to whether they ride them. He doesn’t offer them and he doesn’t suggest they ride them. He might point out they are there and if the guest rides the bike it’s on them.

Does anyone else have any experience with this? Is there a contract that could be used?

Why not just put them in touch with a local bike hire company.

1 Like

Why don’t you suggest Hubway as an alternative? There are also tons of bike shops around Boston that will rent for longer time periods.

I keep wrestling with this, too. I’d love to offer bikes because it’s so much easier to get around my town with them, but the liability issue keeps scaring me off. Our society is so sue-happy.

A few hosts have suggested Spinlister, which has it’s own insurance policy.

I get stuck on helmets - it seems a terrible idea to offer them (if someone were injured I could see a litigious insurance company coming after me) but I hate the idea of guests riding around without one.

One host was “selling” the bikes to guests, then buying them back at the end of their stay to avoid liability issues. I don’t know if this would hold up in court. I’d be curious what your lawyer friend thinks.


I’ve looked at bike shops as a rental option and they are all rather expensive. Not many do rentals. I live in the Roslindale Village area of Boston and we don’t have a Hubway station within a reasonable distance. The nearest is more than 2 miles away.

Wow! Spinlister! I looked at it quick and it might be an option.

I think if you are going to do it you have to include everything. Right now I have 4 bikes of different sizes. I have mirrors and bells on all of them. Two have back racks. One has front and rear fenders for riding in the rain. I also have one set of panniers. I’ve got 3 helmets and 3 locks.

That’s an interesting idea. I will ask my friend about this. Here in Boston you can get a good bike on Craig’s list for about $150.

Boston is a bike friendly city and it’s easy to get around. I’m doing this more for the commuter guest than the casual visitor who wants to ride around.

We have two bicycles that we offer guests. Many guests really enjoy them. If a guest were to successfully sue, they would have to prove gross negligence on your part. They would also have to find an attorney who would take the case which would be unlikely to net them much of a settlement. Many people believe that Americans sue one another constantly. This isn’t true. We have the right to sue each other for pretty much anything, but we don’t exercise the right all that much.

1 Like

We’ve had some terrible accidents with bicycles this year. A couple of fatalities. It would seem to me that if someone were catastrophically injured requiring life long medical care they would get an attorney to go after anyone and everyone. And I couldn’t blame them if they did.

I did download the contract from It’s the button on the bottom of this page:

It’s fairly thorough in putting the responsibility onto the renter of the bike for anything that may happen.

I like the idea of selling the bike and then buying it back. I also like the idea of helping them buy a bike on Craig’s List and then help them sell it again.

I really want to do this as my guests, for the most part, would love it.

It’s less the individual using the bike and more the insurance company that I’d be concerned about. If someone gets into a serious accident, especially one where auto insurance is involved, I DO believe the insurance company would come after whomever they could.

And yes, Spinlister puts a lot of the responsibility on the person who let the bike for rent. If I have it serviced once a year (~$100), is that sufficient? What happens if another guest damages some component and I wasn’t made aware? Do I have to have it inspected by a bike mechanic each time? (I’d imagine this is what a bike rental shop would do, but I’m not equipped to do so)

1 Like

Spinlister has options for handling damage, repairs, and theft. I just think I’d do it myself. Maybe do an inspection with guest when they first take it. I actually ride all my bikes so I know what kind of condition they are in. Again, I wouldn’t let someone take them for a weekend ride about Boston. This is more for the long term guest who needs to commute.

I think you would have to get a sense for the guest to see if they have their head in the game. If not then this city will eat them up.

Two miles is a long way. I have four stations within a 5 minute walk. I thought most neighborhoods were more densely populated with stations. Too bad.

I will argue this point. There are a lot of bicycles here but it is not a friendly being environment at all. One has to be really cautious out there, and tourists who don’t understand the car culture here are at great risk. It is getting better though!

The Los Angeles and Santa Monica equivalents of Hubway are expensive, at least $6.00 per hour. Plus we don’t have any near our house.

A previous thread might be of interest.

1 Like

The issue is not necessarily damages more that if anything nasty happened and they sue anybody and everybody you could incur legal costs in defending your situation.

The local ski town switches to bike rentals in the summer, $35 a day seems the average rate. They buy in new bikes every year and then sell them off at the end of the season, mitigates their risk.

They also have someone check them over before every rental, waivers, processes etc so any come back against them is unlikely.

We had a look into it, but since nobody wants normal bikes anymore, only e-bikes, it is not worth the investment.
We have an arrangement with a local rental company where they can get an e-bike for a day with a discount.

Thanks for referring that discussion. Interesting.