Rental Bike Accidents

Bike Sharing in Denver

In the spring of 2021, the government of Denver signed exclusive five-year licensing arrangements with the multinational companies Lyft and Lime. As part of the agreements, Denver’s Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (DOTI) required each vendor to offer a certain number of bicycles in addition to their popular electric scooters. The vendors also agreed to establish dedicated parking spaces to prevent overcrowding on sidewalks and to distribute a minimum percentage of their fleet to areas identified as underserved. They must also provide reduced rates to need-based groups and offer the ability to pay for the rental in cash.

The agreements with the city place the burden of compliance on Lime and Lyft if users ride on sidewalks or obstruct pedestrians. If the city gets a complaint, the companies have two hours to address the situation before they are charged with a violation. It’s unknown yet whether this contractual obligation will also make the companies liable in a civil or criminal suit when users cause injuries while violating municipal law by conduct such as riding on sidewalks.

Other Bicycle Rental Options in Denver

A quick online search reveals numerous options for renting all types of bicycles in the Denver metro area. In addition to companies that will deliver mountain bikes to tourists waiting at a trailhead, visitors and residents can rent performance road bikes by the hour, day, or week. Some companies even rent specialty bikes such as surreys and tandem bikes that require multiple riders to work together to operate.

The fastest-growing segment of the bike rental market, however, seems to center on electric bicycles – often simply referred to as e-bikes. These bicycles have a battery-powered motor that can either assist the cyclist as they pedal or provide all the power so that the cyclist does not need to pedal at all. The hills and high altitude of the Denver area can make bicycling difficult, particularly for tourists, so e-bikes offer an attractive option for many whether they are visiting the area or dealing with the terrain on a regular basis.

The Dangers of Unfamiliar Bikes

Navigating city traffic or popular park trails frequently poses a challenge even for experienced riders operating riding their own familiar equipment. When a cyclist is riding an unfamiliar rental bike, the risk of losing control and causing a bike accident increases tremendously.

A rider on a rental bike may have trouble:

  • Adjusting to a different type of brakes
  • Balancing the heavier weight of a sturdy rental frame
  • Changing gears that operate differently
  • Turning on lights
  • Adjusting to a different seat type or placement

Even when difficulties don’t cause a rider to lose control, the distraction they provide can take the bicyclist’s eyes and attention away from the road and lead to an accident.

Because e-bikes are more complicated and enable cyclists to travel at a much higher rate of speed, the dangers for those operating them—and pedestrians and even those driving cars in the area—can be much greater.

Liability for Tourist and Rental Bike Accidents

Determining who’s responsible for an accident can be a complex undertaking in any situation, but it is even more difficult when a rental and bike share vehicle is involved. The company that rented the bicycles has a duty to ensure that the equipment is in safe operating condition, so anyone injured in an accident caused by poor maintenance should collect evidence to hold the rental company liable. If the owner relied on a third party for maintenance, that company could be liable as well. Or if a defect in manufacturing or design led to the accident, an attorney could establish liability against the company who made the bicycle or its components.

Tourists and residents who rent the bikes should be held responsible for their behavior, of course. If they operate a bike while intoxicated or run down a pedestrian on the sidewalk, it certainly makes sense to expect them to shoulder some of the burden for the injuries they cause. However, the rental company may be required to share in some of that liability. If an attorney can prove that the company failed to inform the rider of required safety rules or regulations, for instance, or that they rented a bike to someone who was clearly impaired by drugs or alcohol, they should be held accountable for their lack of responsibility.

Finally, even if someone renting a bike operates it safely, they or others around them can be injured by negligent actions of third parties. For example, if the driver of a truck veers into a bike lane and the bicycle rider swerves onto the sidewalk to avoid being hit, any injuries resulting from riding on the sidewalk should really be considered to be caused by the conduct of the truck driver.

Help After a Rental Bike Accident

One person’s lack of responsibility can trigger a domino effect that causes injuries to an innocent victim. When that happens, the personal injury lawyers at Levine Law are ready to help victims get the justice they deserve and the compensation they need to move forward after the accident. For help after a rental bike accident or other injury caused by the negligence of another, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

We have offices to serve you in Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Loveland.

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