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Legal Issues Slowing Down US Bike Rental Programs

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WASHINGTON, US – Early enthusiasm to reduce traffic congestion and pollution through bike programs is being tempered by questions over funding and who’s held liable if someone is injured on a government-owned bicycle, according to…..
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Legal Issues Slowing Down US Bike Rental Programs

WASHINGTON, US – Early enthusiasm to reduce traffic congestion and pollution through bike programs is being tempered by questions over funding and who’s held liable if someone is injured on a government-owned bicycle, according to a recent article in USA Today.

Washington, D.C., started the first self-service bike-rental program in the USA in August and has registered more than 900 users. A factor slowing bike programs in other cities is funding. The D.C. program is being completely funded by Clear Channel Outdoor under an agreement that gives the company advertising rights on the city’s bus stops.

Chicago officials put out a request last year for private companies to run a bike-rental program, but the Department of Transportation says the proposals would have cost the city still too much money.

No legal battles in the Paris program

Boston city officials have been trying to mimic the Paris program and are hoping to have a bike-sharing program in place by 2010. But sorting out the legal issues has slowed the process. If a person, who rents a bike from a city, or a company contracting with the city, gets injured while using it, it’s unclear who could be at fault. While no major legal battles have been reported in the Paris program, officials say that could be far different in Boston and other US cities. There’s more of a tendency to sue in the USA.

San Francisco sees similar concerns in trying to implement its own bike-sharing program, but they have a unique roadblock. In 2006, a city resident sued to stop the creation of more than 40 miles of new bike lanes, arguing that the city had not properly reviewed how the bikes would affect traffic. A judge agreed and granted an injunction, halting all bike projects ever since.

Caption: Washington DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty at the launch of the highly anticipated SmartBikeDC program.

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