You’ve seen them by now, that row of bikes lining the end of a block, or those bright-yellow and bright-green bikes standing, leaning and even lying randomly around your neighborhood. Perhaps you’ve even tripped on one of them walking on the sidewalk. Across the state, bike-sharing programs have become increasingly popular. Companies such as Ofo, Ant, Lime Bike, and Spin have released thousands of bikes into the cities and suburbs of Massachusetts. Now that private companies are renting out these bicycles on the cheap, they are taking over the streets. More bikes on the streets means more potential for bike accidents.
How It Works
There are generally two major types of bike sharing programs:
Dock-less or free-floating: There are several dock-less bike sharing companies and while each service offers different perks, they all function in a similar way. They don’t require the usual locks or docking stations because they are electronically locked and unlocked using a smartphone app. You download an app, locate a bike in your area using a map, enter your credit card information, the bike brake unlocks and away you go paying by the hour for your ride. When you finish your ride, you park your bike at your destination and lock it back up with your smartphone.
Docked or Station Based: The specifics vary from city to city, but the basic format is the same: bikes are available for free or a nominal fee at stations around town with the quick swipe of a credit or debit card at the actual station, rather than using an app. Sometimes sponsored by a company, such as Citibank, these programs have helped tourists and local residents enjoy biking and exploring new locations around the country.
Interesting Bike Sharing Facts
- In 2017, the number of bike share bicycles available for rent in the United States More than doubled from 42,500 to over 100,000 by the end of the year.
- The overall number of annual bike share rides rose to 35 Million in 2017.
- Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston regularly place in the United States top 20 bike-commuting cities each year.
Bike sharing has a great upside. It can increase tourism, reduce users’ environmental impact, and allow bikers to exercise and enjoy being outside. There are however dangers associated with these programs — perhaps even more so than with other forms of bike riding. That expression: “It’s Like Riding a Bike” may not hold true for you depending on when your last ride was. Sure, most of your balance, coordination, and understanding of how to brake may still be there, but the roads you were accustomed to years ago have drastically changed. There is much more to keep an eye out for, and more distracted drivers on the road than ever.
Bike Share Maintenance and Safety
With bike sharing, the bicycles may not be maintained in the same manner that a private bike would typically be. When you hop onto a bike from a sharing program, you will have no way of knowing when the last time the tires were filled, the gears were lubricated, the chains and brakes were checked, or any other routine maintenance was performed. If a bike is not properly maintained, it could lead to an accident if the tire pops, the chain breaks or the brakes fail.
One very important thing to keep in mind is that bike sharing programs do not provide safety gear such as helmets. If you are not wearing a helmet while riding a bike, you could face serious injuries if you do get into an accident. If you do plan to use a bike from a bike-sharing program, the smart bet is to bring along your own helmet to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury and other serious medical issues if you do happen to crash.
When you are finished with your ride, do your part to keep bike sharing safe and convenient.
- Park the bike upright, on its kick-stand in the landscaping/furniture zone of sidewalks (the part of the sidewalk with trees, poles, and other fixtures), as long as that space is wide enough to accommodate a bike.
- Leave plenty of room for pedestrians to pass.
- Do not park on corners, driveways, or curb ramps.
- Do not block access to buildings, benches, parking pay stations, bus stops, hydrants, etc.
- Be courteous to others—don’t park in somebody else’s way, and don’t hide the bike somewhere that the next user might be unable to get to it.
Contact Spada Law Group, a Massachusetts Bike Sharing Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a bike accident — whether through a bike sharing program or on your own bicycle — you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced bike accident attorney can help you recover the money that you deserve for your losses. Contact Spada Law Group today for a free case evaluation. With offices in Chelsea and Salem, MA, Spada Law Group provides Boston quality legal representation without the commute into the city with free on-premises or validated parking. We are here to answer any questions you may have. Call Spada Law Group today at 617-889-5000 to discuss your situation. The consultation is free and there is absolutely no obligation to hire us. We are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.