Increasing numbers of Bird bikes and dockless scooters owned by other companies are appearing on the streets of Baltimore. The arrival of these bikes raise some serious questions such as who would you sue if you hurt yourself on a Baltimore Bird bike? Baltimore City launched a pilot program for shared dockless vehicles on August 15, 2018. The pilot program was extended until April 30, 2019, according to the City of Baltimore.
The city points out there is a “legislative process to potentially make it permanent.” The pilot includes bicycles, e-bicycles, and e-scooters. Members of the public rent these machines via an app. However, questions linger over liability for injuries. Our Baltimore bicycle injury lawyers remain concerned about the potential for bike and scooter riders to be hurt and killed. Please contact us as soon as possible if you or a family member suffered an injury.
What to Do If You Are Injured on a Baltimore Bird Bike
People who get hurt on Bird bikes should consider who was to blame. Relevant questions include.
- Did another driver cause my Baltimore Bird bike accident?
- Was my bike defective or damaged?
- Did my Bird bike suffer from vandalism?
- Was I wearing a helmet?
- Were there witnesses to the accident?
- Was I obeying cycling laws?
The influx of dockless scooters and bikes to major U.S. cities has been compared to the transportation revolution associated with the arrival or Uber and Lyft. These are unpredictable times in Baltimore and elsewhere. Authorities are making rules with little time to react to developments.
Much of the adverse publicity over Bird and Lime relates to electric scooters. Bird and Lime have been aggressively flooding cities with these machines causing a surge in injuries and at least three instances of wrongful death. Unregulated Bird scooters led to concerns and complaints at Baltimore City Council last summer. However, city leaders later entered a pilot with Bird and Lime which took over when the city closed down the theft and vandalism-plagued Baltimore Bike Share program.
Bird states its mission is to reduce congestion and pollution from cars in cities. It is targeting drivers who make short trips to work and around downtowns. Although injuries from electric scooters in Baltimore made headlines, uses also face dangers on the more traditional types of bikes.
Baltimore Bike Laws
The City of Baltimore urges bicycle and scooter uses to be aware of the following laws:
- Users under 16 must wear helmets when riding;
- Bicycles and scooter should not be ridden on sidewalks;
- Riders should not block bus stops, driveways or doorways.
Suing for Baltimore Bird Bike Injuries
The large numbers of bikes flooding Baltimore’s streets and the likelihood of the pilot program becoming permanent raises questions about liability if you are hurt on a Baltimore Bird bike. The question is also relevant to riders of Lime bikes or those on Spin and Jump bikes recently added to the pilot program.
Lack of Rider Safety Measures
The issue of liability if you get hurt on a dockless bike has been explored in Seattle, Washington which held a pilot program in 2017. Results from the pilot found low levels of accidents but also concern from bike users about safety. Bike-share users called for more protected bike lanes to ride on. More than half of them said there were not enough bike trails or protected bike lanes to use. They wanted to be physically separated from motor vehicles, reported Curbed. The study also revealed low numbers of bike-share users wearing helmets.
The Seattle Department of Transportation has reported several accidents and injuries involving dockless shared bicycles after they hit the roads. They included vandalism. More alarming were reports of vandals cutting brake lines on dockless bikes. Seattle police investigated one case of a rider who crashed on a Lime bike, possible due to a vandal deliberately cutting his brakes.
Bird and Lime attempt to limit liability by getting users to sign liability waivers. However, you may have grounds to sue Bird if you suffered an injury because of cut brake lines on a shared bike. The issue has yet to be tested in the courts but it goes to the heart of the model that allows bikes to be left on the streets where they are vulnerable to vandalism. In Baltimore, the city council discontinued the Baltimore Bike Share program because of vandalism and theft. The vandals ripped bikes from their stations. Bird and Lime bikes are more easily accessible.
You may also have grounds to sue Bird for another bicycle failure like a tire blowout. It is the bike share company’s responsibility to provide safe vehicles for riders, and to check and maintain them. The responsibility of Bird extends to regularly inspecting ride share bikes, carrying out repairs, and taking these bikes off the streets. Any breach of this duty opens the company up to liability if you hurt yourself on a Baltimore Bird bike.
Users of Bird bikes can also sue the driver of another vehicle if he or she caused the accident with injuries. Pedestrians who are hurt by riders on the sidewalks may have grounds to sue the riders. If you hurt yourself on a Baltimore Bird bike and find a defect on the bike caused your injury, you may have grounds to sue the manufacturer as well as Bird. The arrival of these mass-produced city bikes raised many unanswered questions about quality. Other parties who could be held liable for bike-share accident include the City of Baltimore because it allowed hundreds of bikes to flood the streets under its pilot program.
What To Do If You Hurt Yourself on a Baltimore Bird Bike
Bike riders have few outward protections and often suffer very serious injuries. As with a car accident, you should take steps to safeguard your rights after a Bird bike crash in Baltimore.
Seek medical help as soon as possible after your accident. It’s important to document your injuries. If you are able to, get the details of all parties involved in the accident. If you believe a defect on your bike contributed to the accident, mention this to the officer who investigates the wreck. Take pictures and gather eyewitness evidence at the bike wreck scene. Consult with an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer about your grounds to sue.
Contact a Baltimore Bird Bike Accident Lawyer
It’s important to talk to a Baltimore personal injury lawyer soon after an accident involving a bike. Given that this is a fast-moving area of the law, an insurance company may not be helpful if you try to make a claim without legal help. The insurance companies often blame cyclists for their injuries if they are not wearing helmets or claim they were not following the rules of the road.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we have represented injured cyclists for years. Please call our Baltimore Bird bike accident lawyers as soon as possible at (410) 694-7291.