Ride at Your Own Risk: Your Liability When Riding a Bike-Share Bike

When I was a kid on multi-day family road trips, my brother and I, with no screen or device to entertain us, would spend hours playing the “license plate game.”

You remember the “license plate game.” You try to find a license plate from every U.S. state. Double points for Alaska and Hawaii, and triple points for Mexican states and Canadian states and provinces.

My kids don’t play the license plate game in the car. Their game of choice is the “bike game.” The object of the bike game is to spot one of the multi-colored buck-a-bikes, also known as dockless bikes or bike-share bikes, that are all over Dallas and the surrounding suburbs.

What are these bikes? Here’s how they work. You spot a bike, download an app and enter your credit card number. The bike is remotely unlocked, and you ride away. Most companies charge about $1 an hour; many promise the first ride free. Done with your ride? Just leave the bike.

This creates one huge problem–people leave them anywhere and everywhere.

Hence the game for my girls.

Not content with having 13,000 or so (down from a high of 20,000) bikes littering its sidewalks, the City of Dallas recently authorized electric scooters that go up to 20 MPH to be added to the mix of vehicles you can rent and leave wherever you want.

What could possibly go wrong?

Today I am going to talk about the risks involved in renting one of these bikes or scooters. No, I’m not talking about injuring yourself (or someone else) if you crash a bike or scooter. I’m talking about the risks you assume the moment you open the app and unlock the bike.

There are multiple bike-share providers in Dallas, too many to discuss in a blog post. I’m going to focus on Lime Bike for one simple reason. Their bikes are the ones that keep popping up in my Las Colinas neighborhood (a 14 mile, all freeway ride, from where they are supposed to be in downtown Dallas).

When you open the Lime Bike app and unlock the bike, you are agreeing to abide by their User Agreement (a 48 page document available here) and Privacy Policy (a 22 page document available here).

A lot of reading to be sure, but the devil is in the details.

If you are injured while using one of the bikes or scooters, don’t count on getting any money from Lime.

If you are injured while riding a Lime bike or scooter, it’s very unlikely you could recover any money from Lime (assuming Lime properly maintained the bike or scooter).

Under the User Agreement, riders agree that they are “competent operators,” meaning they know how to properly use the bike or scooter and they are physically able to ride the bike or scooter. You also agree to “assume all responsibilities and risks for any injuries.”

You also probably can’t claim that Lime doesn’t provide enough safety instructions. The app runs your through a series of steps on how to safely ride the bike or scooter (e.g, wear a helmet and ride only in bike lanes).

Don’t carry a helmet with you? Lime has covered that contingency as well. The app will direct you to a designated location to borrow one for you.

You better know the rules of the road.

Think you can blow past a stop sign just because you are on a bike and not in a car? Think again.

Under the User Agreement, you agree to obey all laws that apply to bikes and scooters.

Think no one will know it was you popping wheelies down Main Street in heavy traffic? Think again. Under Lime’s Privacy Policy, you give Lime the right to track your movement on the bike and to share your personal information with law enforcement agencies to “take action regarding illegal activities and traffic offenses.” In other words, they will rat you out.

You probably shouldn’t just leave the bike or scooter anywhere and always remember to deactivate your rental.

If you forget to deactivate your rental, after 48 hours Lime can consider the bike or scooter lost or stolen and charge your credit card up to $600 for the bike or $1,500-$1,600 for the scooter. They can also file a police report against you.

Can’t get the bike or scooter back to an area where Lime can easily retrieve it? Decide to ditch the bike in your back yard or driveway? You can call them to pick it up (and avoid the cost of replacing the bike or scooter), but they will charge you up to $120 as a pick-up fee.

One final piece of advise from The Law Mother? If you haven’t ridden a bike or electric scooter in a long time or ever, do us all a favor and don’t start with a rental on the streets of Dallas.

Have you rented a bike-share bike or scooter-share scooter? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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