Residents of Amsterdam are forever being commended on their preference
for riding bicycles rather than driving cars to save gas, reduce
personal injuries, protect the environment and live a healthier and more active lifestyle.
In fact, it is estimated that there are over 1,000,000 bicycle riders
in Amsterdam - and only about 250,000 cars.
The resolve of these "Venice of the North" inhabitants has been
making its way to other cities around the world - in the form of bike-sharing
programs. One of those cities is Honolulu. However, determining whether
it will succeed requires a quick look at how other U.S. cities, such as
New York City, have fared using the same program.
The Honolulu Bike Sharing Program: Coming In 2015
According to the
Pacific Business News, Honolulu is moving forward with plans to roll out a bike-sharing program
by 2015. Up to 180 stations would be placed across the city, from Chinatown
to Waikiki to the University of Hawaii, which would hold up to 1,700 bikes
for residents and tourists to use - either on an annual, weekly, daily
or hourly basis. The city plans to install a bike lane on King Street
and parking would be moved so bikers can ride between the parked cars
and the curb. The city also plans to paint a bike lane onto Beretania Street.
The program would be operated similarly to the bicycle sharing program
now in place in New York City, which has 330 stations. Charges in NYC
are $95 for an annual pass, $25 for a weekly pass and $9.95 for a daily
pass. Many questioned whether the program, instituted in 2009, would be
successful. However, the program seems to be working. Very well.
According to a City of New York January 2014 Study EntitledBike Lanes & Bike Share Program = Bike Safety, despite major concerns about bicyclists colliding with taxis, not wearing
helmets and generally not following safety precautions, the study found
that city bikers were progressing on safety issues and very few accidents
are occurring now that people are more comfortable with the process. Specifically,
the study showed that the number of riders who:
- Were observed going through red lights without stopping or pausing had
decreased 10 percent down to 34 percent from 2009.
- Were observed riding against traffic in the street or a bike lane had decreased
5.8 percent down to 7.4 percent from 2009.
- Used helmets rose from 29.9 percent to 49.8 percent.
Lessons Learned From the Big Apple
It seems as though New York's experience with bike sharing has been
very successful overall. If Honolulu can draw any lessons from New York's
plan, it might be to put in place the rules that
must be followed from the start - such as helmet use, riding on the correct
side of the road and following applicable driving laws and making sure
to fairly and consistently enforce those laws.
Bicycle accidents can lead to serious injury or death - due to the simple fact that bicycle
riders are less protected than those in vehicles. Assessing liability
in these types of cases can be difficult - especially when the bike that
you're using doesn't belong to you. In effect, many of the legal
issues surrounding rental
car accidents would likely come into play in this situation, including:
- Was the bike properly designed and manufactured?
- Was the bike properly maintained?
- Who was ultimately responsible for bike maintenance on a continual basis?
- If there was a known defect about the bike, who was responsible for telling
"the next" user?
- Who had the right of way, were traffic signals working, etc.
As you can see, determining liability isn't as clear-cut as many people
believe. While we think the bike sharing program will be good for Honolulu
in general, good for our environment and promote safer and healthier lifestyles,
the bottom line is that accidents happen.