Bike sharing has changed the way both locals and tourists zip around their cities. The way this service typically works is users borrow a bike from one of many docking stations around the city. They have the option to return it to any station where an empty spot is available. Other systems are dockless, allowing riders to lock and unlock bikes via smartphone apps.
There are multiple companies operating in Florida in the bike sharing space. Some of these companies have a widespread presence in various states across the country while others only offer rentals regionally and locally.
Lime is a major national company in this space. Currently, Lime operates in four major Florida cities: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando. The company has fleets of electric bikes that are partially battery-powered as well as electric scooters.
Jump is a subsidiary of Uber, the largest ride-sharing company in the world. Miami and Tampa are two of the cities where Jump currently rents out electric scooters and electric bikes. Hopr, formerly known as Juice, operates in Orlando, Miami, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. They operate a fleet of manual bikes with plans to introduce e-bikes eventually.
Safety Issues with Bike Sharing
In recent years, there has been an overall decrease in the number of traffic fatalities, but a 32% increase in accident-related deaths for pedestrians and bicyclists has happened. This increase happens to coincide with the growth of bike sharing services.
The accessibility of shared bikes can lure inexperienced riders to rent them at the spur of the moment. However, they’re often unfamiliar with the roads and unequipped when it comes to safety gear.
The absence of helmets may be a major factor in bike sharing related injuries. In the United States, 50% of cyclists wear a helmet on a regular basis. Casual bike sharers aren’t as likely to be traveling with their own helmets, and not all bike sharing companies make them available to rent.
Bicycle accidents often occur when a driver of a vehicle does not see the bike. This is especially true at intersections when the bikers and motorists paths are likely to cross.
Experienced cyclists and locals may know to take precautions, but casual riders and out of town renters may not be as familiar with surrounding dangers. Even people who are accustomed to riding regular bikes can underestimate the power and speed of electric bikes. They could lose control as a result.
Types of Bicycling Accidents
In some circumstances, bicycling accidents happen because of faulty parts. E-bikes are equipped with lithium-ion batteries that have the potential to cause fires and explosions when they are worn down or poorly manufactured. Defective brakes can make cyclists lose control and drive into traffic, buildings, or other cyclists.
Cyclists are up against much larger and faster vehicles. In the state of Florida, they have the same rights and traffic laws as motorists on the road. Unfortunately, impatient drivers do not always respect their right of way at intersections which puts cyclists at a greater risk for getting ran over.
Oftentimes, drivers don’t see cyclists. Wearing reflective clothes at night and loud colors in general can increase cyclists’ visibility. Since many bike share rentals are unplanned, it’s unlikely that renters will be dressed accordingly.
A common oversight is when drivers pass a bicycle to make a right turn and do not notice their presence until it is too late. Another frequent danger to cyclists is the opening of a car door. They have little time to slow down and readjust for the unexpected barrier.
If there is no bike lane, bike riders should travel on the far-right side of the road. When traffic is at a standstill, bike riders ought to avoid the temptation to weave in and out of traffic to move at a faster pace. Cyclists who do not observe these behaviors are more likely to be struck by a vehicle.
Who is Liable for a Bike Sharing Accident?
Wear and tear are expected when multiple consumers share bikes on a daily basis. Bike share companies are responsible for routine inspections and maintenance such as checking for punctured tires and replacing batteries. They can be held liable for an accident if the cause was a maintenance error or lack of upkeep to the bikes.
If a particular part on a bike fails through no fault of the bike sharing company, then a product liability claim against the bicycle manufacturer could be lodged. If a rider suspects that an accident was caused by a faulty part or lack of maintenance, documenting evidence is critical.
Taking pictures of the accident, informing the police, and contacting an attorney are important steps to ensure that the at-fault parties are held accountable.
If a consumer is renting a ride share bicycle and is hit by a car, the rules are the same as if that cyclist were using a personal bicycle or car. The cyclist would need to file a claim against the at-fault driver and make a claim against that driver’s insurance policy.
Contact The Eberst Law Firm for Help With Your Hit and Run
If you’ve been injured in a bike sharing accident, you shouldn’t have to do recover on your own. Contact us at The Eberst Law Firm, and we’d be happy to look over your case. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can take on your case. If you’re in the Stuart or Gainesville, Florida area, please contact us online or at (772) 225-4900.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at The Eberst Law Firm who have extensive experience trying legal cases outside and inside courtrooms throughout Florida. This article was also extensively researched to ensure that all information is accurate and up to date. If you want to know more about the author of this page, view our our attorney bios here.