LAKEVIEW — A popular North Side shop is ending bike rentals in the wake of news that another city bike rental company is paying $350,000 to a customer who was involved in a dooring accident.
Salvatore, whose store at 2959 N. Lincoln Ave. includes a coffee shop as well as selling custom bikes, said he was suspending his bike rental program, and that test rides will be more carefully handled.
"It was like, 'Nothing's safe'," Salvatore said of the hearing about the lawsuit. "It's better to be cautious."
Earlier this week, Lakeshore Bike N' Tune agreed to a $350,000 settlement after tandem bike renter Winfield Cohen suffered head and leg injuries from being hit by a car door. According to Cohen's lawyer, the shop's employees did not offer a helmet or school Cohen on safe cycling, violating company policy.
In total, Cohen was awarded $700,000 from various insurance companies and Lakeshore.
That the bike company was liable stunned Salvatore.
Heritage posted on Facebook and Twitter that rentals would end immediately, linking to the story about the lawsuit.
Salvatore's rental program is a small part of his business, he said, charging $45 for a full day and $35 for a half day. The program was primarily for people who wanted to test ride bikes before making a purchase, he said.
Salvatore planned to provide rental bikes for a "How About We" date package where couples could pay to rent bikes and have a picnic lunch. But when Salvatore heard about the lawsuit, he emailed the dating website and canceled the package.
Though he is losing business, "it's worth it" after the settlement, he said.
Heritage educates renters on safety and has them sign a waiver if they don't want a helmet, Salvatore said. But the lawsuit was "unsettling" and leaves open interpretations of liability, he said.
He said in the Lakeshore incident, it "just seems like everyone’s liable."
"It could be the shoe laces. You just don’t know," he said.
Salvatore said he's not sure if Heritage will restart the rental program. Even though Heritage has liability insurance, the lawsuit signaled that "there's definitely no line" on who will be held accountable for an accident.
"It’s very unsettling to see as much as you can control the situation, at the end of the day, it’s out of your hands," he said.