Bicycle liability

Bicycle liability

I have a few bicycles I would like to make available to my guests but unfortunately, I live in the United States of Lawsuits. I see the Host Protection Insurance coverage does not cover vehicle accidents. I can't find the actual text of the program.


Making my bicycles available would significantly raise guest satisfaction. I'm scared of liability issues though. What I want is a situation where the guest assumes their own liability for use of the bicycles, or perhaps insurance coverage to protect me from liability arrising from my generosity. It would be nice if the Host Guarantee covers damage to the bicycles, but I'm willing to accept the risk of bike theft. The much greater concern is some crazy lawsuit arising from my guests biking around town, which may or may not be covered by the standard Host Protection Insurance. This concern is preventing me from offering bicycles to my guests, which is a shame because the bikes are just sitting unused while the guests have to walk past them on the way to the public transit station.


Is there a solution?


Joe in Berkeley, California


37 Replies 37
Level 2
Boulder, CO

@Kim1085- I like this "sell the bike, conditional guaranteed buy-back" option very much.


I've been back and forth trying to decide whether to rent bikes to guests or not, and came to the conclusion that there's just too many ways for risk and liability to come back and bite me even with a waiver bristling with staunch legalese. It is also impractical and risky to provide helmets. (Plus, helmets are a bit personal.  "Wanna rent my t-shirt?" lol. I know, we rent skates, ski boots, etc., I'm just sayin')


Daily bike rental where I live is about $25 for a basic model.


My Airbnb is 30-day minimum, so I'm thinking of selling the bike & lock to the guest for the duration of the stay, and basing that sale price on a daily rate.


For example: $17 / day x length of stay, sell the bike & lock for $510 for 30 days. I buy the bike back for $150 at check-out, net $360 for the month, representing $12/day "Ownership Rental" rate for the guest. Less than half what they'd pay via a traditional rental. 


In the event the bike and lock are stolen / lost / damaged, the host keeps the $510 (or some portion depending on the situation).


People can play with the numbers with their own scenarios.


Providing bikes this way is really an attractive amenity, saving the guests from having to burn time on both ends of their stay, and it can be priced competitively. I'll have to dig a bit more to see if/how this could be integrated with the reservation as an optional amenity.  Maybe someone has already done it? 


Possible snags...


1) Local or state laws/codes regarding bike registration / ownership? 

2) Are there any tax problems with selling an item for more than it is worth?   


Seems to me this is simply a sell-high / buy-low transaction with a fair profit for the host, a cost-savings for the guest, and no liability battles for either.


Please, anybody, knock this down if you can. We need the crafty pessimists to expose any holes in this thinking.

Level 10
Sayulita, Mexico

@Warren168  Well, the numbers you ran above, I can't see working. In your example, the room rental is $510/month and you think a guest who looks for a rental that cheap is  going to cough up another $510 for a bike to use? I can't see that. I mean, they could go buy a second hand beater bike for much less than the $360 they'd end up spending if they returned the bike you provided in good condition. And if you declined to return any of the bike fee because they damaged it, that would lead to arguments with guests and bad reviews.


Maybe if your example was for a high-end rental where people were paying $100/night, it could work, but I don't see it working with budget-conscious guests. They could take the bus or an Uber if they needed to get somewhere, for $25/day or much less.


And if they were the kind of guests who are into biking as transport, they'd likely bring their own bike with them.


Hows that, did I knock it down enough for you? 🙂

Level 2
Boulder, CO

Hi @Sarah977 -  I think either I wasn't clear or you misunderstood my scenario. (maybe a bit of both?)  - but you do raise a good point about potential for squabbles on the back end of the deal. Having a pretty utilitarian bike, nothing fancy, would minimize the squabbles, I think.


First - to clarify....


The numbers in my proposal are only relevant to the bike purchase and sale as compared to renting a bike. This idea has nothing to do with nightly rates for my place. The $510 I mention is what the guest would pay for buying the bicycle. In my scenario, that person is staying for 30 days. At the end of their stay I buy it back from the guest for $150.


I'm only using the length of stay as a basis for coming up with a price to compare what a guest would pay for renting a bike in the conventional sense to buying a bike from me (as a host), and then selling it back to me (the host) at the end of their stay.


Ignore the Airbnb / nightly rates side of things, and just look at the length of the stay as a measure of how many days a bike is needed by the guest.


I did some more digging to find that some bike rental places where I live do monthly rentals for a basic bike for $175, plus the renter puts down $150-$300 for deposit and signs a liability waiver.


Knowing this, I'd adjust what I proposed as follows:  I'd sell the guest a bike and lock for $300, they use it for a month, then sell back to me for $150 at the end of the month. The net result is $150 to me, and the guest paid the equivalent of $5 per day for a bike during their 30 day stay.


I agree, the guest could hop on  Craigslist and buy a beater for $150, and then bother with selling it themselves before they leave - or just abandon it.  That's a bit of a chicken-egg problem, however. How are they getting around to go look at bikes? How long are they willing to do that - as opposed to just hitting the ground riding the day they arrive? 🙂 Guests coming from outside the US often don't have a car. 


I also realize that guests vary in their sensitivity to price and convenience.  Since my place is monthly, a side-deal for a bike is a small portion of the overall cost of the stay for the guest. (per your point, I am in the $100/night range for the rental).


For my Airbnb, I have a mix of people so far - some who may have their own bikes (because they are local or regional and drove in), but many who are traveling for extended business - domestically or  coming from around the world - and are not arriving with their own bikes. Many people inquiring about my place are flying in from out of state and using remote-work liberties to try out a different city. Some are here buying or selling a home and need a "landing pad" between closings.


I think having a bike for guests is a nice way to simplify their stay, add an amenity for people traveling light, and make some additional revenue.  It may not scale for short-term rentals, I'm not sure.


Thanks very much for stepping up!

Level 2
Lake Worth, FL

@Sarah977 I like this idea very much! nterested in finding out if you initiated this option for your Guests and if so, how it has turned out for you.

Level 10
Sayulita, Mexico

@Warren168  Well, it's the sort of thing you could always try out and see if there is interest. I've thought of having a bike available for my guests, too. 

As far as liability goes, it seems to me that even if you sold the guest a bike, if they crashed it, they could claim you sold them a faulty bike with bad brakes. I wouldn't want to open myself up to any hassles with guests.

I like my hosting life simple.








Level 2
Boulder, CO

@Sarah977 wrote:

@Warren168  Well, it's the sort of thing you could always try out and see if there is interest. I've thought of having a bike available for my guests, too. 

As far as liability goes, it seems to me that even if you sold the guest a bike, if they crashed it, they could claim you sold them a faulty bike with bad brakes. I wouldn't want to open myself up to any hassles with guests.

I like my hosting life simple.








Valid point, but a waiver on the bill of sale is about as much isolation from liability one can get - short of just not doing it at all. 


Level 2
Cowes, Australia

Very interesting about selling the bike, what if they want to keep it? In Australia I think the waiver for stand as I have been to events in Australia where waivers like this are amongst the conditions of entry, maybe that's a way to stipulate these are the conditions of entry which they accept by booking with us And do a basic waiver to add strength (thinking Australia)

Level 2
San Diego, CA

I loan out my bikes to guests because we are in a very bike friendly area and it seems like a cheap way to add value to their stay. Concerned about liability more than theft because they are low value bikes (>$100) and not theft targets. After reading several forums it appears that most hosts have decided that it is not worth the risk.


Wondering what the community thinks of this idea... instead of liability waivers that don't really protect you or loaning through bike rental companies, why not sell them the bike with "as is, where is" language, but with a "buy back" guarantee? The cost in my case would be a reasonable value of the bike, say $100 (similar to deposit amount for this type of rental). If the bike is stolen, they can't sell it back to me, so that gives them an incentive to lock it safely. If the bike is damaged, I would absorb that repair, but on a low end bike, this is an unlikely scenario.


So what do you think, sell them a bike, then they sell back to you at check-out?

Level 1
Sunnyvale, CA

Thank you for asking this Joe. I offered bicycles at my rental in Colorado and had guests say they chose my place just because of the bikes. I'm thinking about offering them in California but hesitant due to the frequent lawsuits. It's makes me sad 😞

Level 10
Chicago, IL

@Jim-and-Ashley0 :  do you have any data that suggests that litigation occurs more in California than Colorado,  or that the US is particularly litigious?  (Hint:  the US litigation rate has gone down steadily for two centuries,  and is now about 1/4th was it was in the 1820s.).

Level 10
Mount Barker, Australia

@Joan-and-Keith1 @Victoria567

You are right Joan, or Keith, letting guests use anything of yours beyond the insured space is a risk. Waivers may not stand up in law. If you wish to let the guest use an article of yours in a public space you must have in writting that the insurer accepts liabilty cover for the specific article.

Let me digress and tell you a story........

Three years and four months ago my daughter purchased a 'NEW' Holden Captiva from Col Crawford Holden of Brookvale on Sydney's northern beaches.
She was talked into accepting what she thought was an extended factory warranty at the time of wrong she was!
What an extended warranty is, it is an agreement with an insurance company to accept liability for some aspects of the manufacture of a new (or used) vehicle after the car builders (or statutory authorities) component of the warranty has expired. And the coverage offered under these extended agreements is severely limited. It is not a warranty, it is an adjudicated decision by an insurance company to possibly cover reimbursement in some situations.
The problem is, the new car purchaser thinks they are being covered by the vehicle manufacturer, and nowhere in the sales agreement was it pointed out that an insurance company (Allianz) would be involved in covering this particular vehicle at any point over the 5 year warranty period.

Three years and two months (70,000 Kms after purchase this vehicle which had been log book serviced since new by certified Holden dealers, started to mix engine coolant with engine oil, an error code kept coming up on the dash panel and after being told by two Holden dealers nothing was wrong with the vehicle, it was returned to the place of purchase, Col Crawford Holden. 
It took them two weeks and four days to diagnose that there was in fact a problem with this engine and that it had a 'faulty' (their words) head gasket. Subsequent investigation by NRMA personnel has confirmed that this is a known issue with this particular Holden vehicle model.
By now, a pattern was forming here! Holden dealers did not want to get involved because they knew the vehicle was out of factory warranty, and that extended warranties did not apply to the fault this vehicle had developed. They understood that if they got involved, a fight over payment for their services would ensure so they all fobbed the problem off and simply said it was normal for this type of vehicle to loose engine coolant. 
Extended warranty insurers will only offer coverage on things that are not likely to break down! 
The owner, my daughter Kate, was eventually told by Col Crawford Holden that there would be a substantial cost ($2,000) involved to replace this head gasket as ALLIANZ, the insurer, do not cover Seals or Gaskets as part of their insurance risk. 
The vehicle was sitting in the premises of Col Crawford Holden for 6 weeks in an un-repaired state because nobody wants to take responsibility for a faulty product. Eventually statuary authorities were involved and a repair took place that has not fixed the problem...same error code keeps coming up!
Insurance is a minefield, we all want cheaper policies but, we can't burn the candle at both ends......the cheaper the premium, the less the coverage. Make sure you know what you are covered for!
Bicycles in a public space are a receipe for disaster!
Level 10
Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi @Joe8

If in doubt, leave it out!




Been there, done that - offering Bikes are a big mistake.  Regardless of waiver, you can be sued for negligence - even nonsense things like claims the brakes were not calabrated, chain not oiled, etc. This is why AirBnB and most 3rd party insurance refuse to cover bikes. 3rd party bike insurance will not cover your negligence (read the fine print) - guess what your insurance company will say if a big claim is made against you.  Someone gets hurt bad, there is a very  real chance they can take everything from you. Here in Colorado, the state passed laws specifically to shield the outdoor recreational industry from lawsuits - and the law suits are still flying. Way too many speculative, commision only lawyers out there. Beyond risk, you have to maintain the bikes, check them after every use and pay for their upkeep. If you do not, you get a bad review. We live in Boulder CO, a low crime area, but unless the guest knows how to lock up the bike tight, the bike can get stolen, or components like the seat or tire(s) get taken, stranding your guest, costing you money and a potential  bad review.  Guest gets a flat tire, walks away, you got to retreve the bike and fix it, while praying that your guest  remembered where they left the bike. Guest gets drunk downtown and loses the bike lock key - fun times! We all want to be "The Cool Host," but bikes are a huge pain in the butt: they are expensive, time consuming, increase the chances for a bad review, and could literally cost you everything you own. I would bet serious money that very, very few quests choose a host based on bike availbility.

Level 1
Villafranca Piemonte, Italy

Hello! I knew about Spinlister this morning and I was so excited to list my bicycles then one hour ago I have discovered that it is not longer in business, big disapponited :((

Does someone rent his bikes at his guests in Italy? which kind of insurance do I need?

Does someone know another website where I can list my bikes and rented to my guest in Italy? 

Thanks for help!

Level 1
Santa Barbara, CA

Joe, I myself am faced with the same issue. I've come up with a few solutions to the problem.


To start, I've purchased an additional umbrella insurance policy in the case of any legal matters regarding guests.


Second, I offer bikes and a kayak as a value add to the listing. I require any guest who chooses to use the bikes/kayak to complete an electronic relesae of libility contract via DocuSign. My insurnace agents feels this is more than adequate and should indemnfiy us in the case of any legal issues.


The third option, would be to refer hosts to something like, Spinster -, an online p2p bike rental service where you can list your bikes for rental. This offers liability protection and an additional revenue steam. 


Hope this helps!

Level 10
Chicago, IL

@Tyler4  I hate to break it to you:  those releases of liability are generally unenforceable in most circumstances where you would have liability.   At best,  they scare away potential litigants,   but they're rarely useful in Court.

Also,  it sounds like your insurance agent is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law?

Level 2
San Mateo, CA

With Spinlister, it feels like there is a risk that people who are not my Airbnb guests will request to rent my bike, but I am not near my Airbnb house and it will be in the garage, how to manage that? Just decline such requests?

Level 2
Tallinn, EE

Tyler, could you please share your contract with me. I have thought of a similar solution. Maybe even let the guest accept the terms with an Airbnb message.

Level 1
Austin, TX

What about just having the guests sign a liability waiver. Having them assume all responsibility for themselves on the bikes and for the bikes. I know in Malibu I rented bikes for a additional fee at my airbnb  rental and they had people just agree to X price if bicycle was stolen or lost or damaged 

Level 2
Palo Alto, CA is no longer in business. Sorry to see, they did not make it. Perhaps Airbnb can try to enter this niche?

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