Ask BikePortland: Who takes the fall for a fallen bike?

On-street bike parking downtown-17.jpg
When all you wanted was a parking spot and you ended up with a moral dilemma.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Have you ever accidentally knocked over someone else’s bike when you locked up your own? If so, what did you do about it?

Reader Christopher S. wrote to us recently and asked how he should respond after he tipped over someone’s bike while trying to lock up to a pole.

Here’s his question:

“…As I was locking up my bike the bike next to mine tipped over since it wasn’t secured to the pole with anything more than a cable lock. No big deal. Happens all the time. So I picked up the bike and leaned it back on the rack. I noticed that the frame had a small dent from the fall (from this fall or another one I don’t know).

Bikes tip over on bike racks all time when not securely locked to the pole. I’ve found my bike on the ground a few times when I was too lazy to make sure it was secured properly. Anyways, I left a note simply stating what happened and left my e-mail in case the person wants to write me (or sue me?).


So what does one do in this situation? Was leaving a note too much or maybe not enough? Should I expect this person to try and get money out of me and if so am I legally or morally obligated to pay it?”

Thanks for the question Christopher. In my opinion you did the right thing. You were very kind to leave a note, especially since it wasn’t clear if the dent was from you or someone else.

Has this ever happened to you? Or have you been on the other side where your bike was damaged by someone locking up next to you?

If so, how did you respond?

— Read more from our Ask BikePortland column.

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