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Old 26.07.2013, 16:43
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Lending bicycles and safety

Over the years I have lived here, I have had extra bicycles, which I have been happy to lend to visiting friends and at the moment, due to mine having left the country, I am actually riding one that I have borrowed from a friend.

I have, at times wondered what the legal situation if a nonSwitzerland resident actually has an accident - who would be liable for damage done to a scratched car, for example?

However, I have just been reminded about the safety issue as well, when lending bikes to people who may not always be very confident or capable:

I was in the courtyard of Veloplus a few minutes ago. Alongside me was an Englishman and woman. The woman was wearing shoes with 3cm platform soles, and heels of about 8cm. It was obvious that it was not her bike that she was about to get on. Rather clumsily, she managed to get astride the bike and after a few attempts, managed to get one foot into the straped toegrip. The man then gave her a quick (very) explanation of how to work the gears. With her other foot on top of the underside of the other pedal, the woman rather tentively cycled towards the street.

CRASH! She had fallen completely off before even making it to the footpath in front of the shop!!

I had been tempted to intervene earlier, and at that point I couldn't resist. After checking that she was not hurt, I suggested that they used the free workshop there to at least remove the toe grips, pointing out that they are difficult for inexperienced riders, let alone those with awkward shoes. The woman promptly agreed with me. However, the man ( embarressed?) immediately came out with just a very defensive "She is actually an experienced biker."

Well sorry Sir! If you are reading this - no, she is not!! (If she was, there would have been no need to give the basic "how to" gear lesson at all.) The lucky thing is that she fell off before being out in the street amongst the traffic. It may have been more than your pride that was hurt.

More importantly, as I was cycing home I reflected on the situations when I have previously lent a bicycle to another person, or seen others lend theirs. I came to the conclusion that we do this far too readily. Basel is a comparatively bike friendly city, but there are still big, dangerous cars, buses, and trams out there - even negotiating those tram lines takes care and a lot of concentration for newbies.

So my plea is, if you are lending a bike to a visitor, someone new to town or someone who has not cycled for a few years , then make sure the bike is roadworthy ( spares often aren't), then insist on a few circuits of your local park before you ever consider encouraging them to take to the roads. ( and ditch all high heels, flipflops and other unsuitable footwear.
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Old 26.07.2013, 17:04
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Re: Lending bicycles and safety

If you are lending a bike to someone from abroad it would also be a good idea to first check if the person has proper insurance, otherwise they would be liable for any damages they do to third parties.

The old Velo Vignette schema used to cover this cases as the insurance was per bike, until it disapeared.
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