Bike-Sharing Programs – What Legal Issues May Arise for Users and the City?

Bike sharing programs can be found in cities across the country. Anyone can rent a bike for various activities, without having to own or purchase one. Although these programs have been successful in different ways, it is important to understand what legal issues may arise based on specific circumstances.


The Bike-Share Program

Some cities and colleges have bike-share programs that provide students or the general public with bicycles for exercise or transportation. The program requires that the bike be rented using a debit or credit card. Students who rent a bike from a university may have to pay a fee through their tuition or other costs, and because of this, they will be able to use all the bicycles in the area as a benefit. The equipment might require upkeep by the college or city and the proper care of the user. These programs can lead to legal problems and liability.

Liability for the Program

To ensure that the bike-share program is valid, there are usually certain legal requirements that the university or city must meet. If the rider is injured, there are both safety and liability issues. These may be caused by manufacturer defects, poorly maintained equipment, or negligence on the part of anyone. The university or city government responsible for creating and maintaining the program may be held liable. Other legal issues may also arise depending on where the university is located. Before implementing the program, it is crucial that the college or state hires a lawyer.

Bike injuries

Sometimes, liability concerns can arise when the rider is injured or causes property damage. The program could be subject to legal action if the victim of the accident is the rider. Compensation will be paid to the person who sustained the injury. If there is an injury to pedestrians or drivers in the same situation, they can sue the rider or the bike rental company.

Limiting liability with the Program

Whether the program is through a person, entity or a government, it is possible to limit legal issues that can occur. There is the ability to purchase insurance policies, a waiver for each user, proper maintenance and education with the users along with the city that will see bikers around. Other safety measures may be taken to protect bikers, pedestrians, and drivers who will encounter those riding on bicycles. When appropriate protocols are put in place to minimize stress and complications, legal issues can often be reduced. To ensure that all precautions are taken, however, program owners and backers may need to consult a lawyer.

The Shortage of Precautions

It is possible for legal problems to quickly arise if the program owner or backer fails to take the proper precautions regarding a bike-share program. Lack of safety gear can lead to injury to pedestrians and bikers. The program could be held liable if it does not have liability insurance. This could lead to financial damages for the victim. Legal problems can arise between the parties if they fail to notify bikers and city residents about the bike-share program.

The Program and Criminal Behavior

There are other legal issues and concerns that could arise, such as criminal behavior by someone or a person that is angry about the program. This could result in theft or destruction. To deter criminal behavior, the person in charge of the program might need surveillance equipment placed wherever bicycles are located to make sure local law enforcement has evidence of theft or destruction. This will help to enforce the law and limit potential legal problems with the program.

Legal Support for City Bike Share Programs

Before implementing a bike-share system, it is crucial for the city government, any entity, or any person to consult a lawyer. A lawyer might be required to modify certain rules or guidelines, or to explain how to minimize liability. Sometimes, the lawyer will need to take legal action against another party.

Updated on 12/2/2021