San Diego has had a sudden massive influx of “dockless” bikes and scooters dropped on its streets and sidewalks. From the Gaslamp Quarter to Hillcrest and La Jolla, bikes from different companies (LimeBike, Mobike, and Ofo) can be found for rent on almost every corner. Interestingly, the companies that have left the bikes have not provided the necessary protective gear for riding them: helmets. Will this result in more serious bicycle accidents in San Diego?
One program, “Discover Bikes,” is operated in partnership with the City of San Diego. However, this company acknowledges on their website, “Discover Bike does not provide helmets at stations. It is the user’s responsibility to provide their own helmet.”
These companies have created a dangerous situation for many locals and visitors alike, in that people may pick up a bike on any street corner and ride around without a helmet, which can lead to serious injury. However, these bike companies are not taking responsibility to prevent such injury and require the rider to assume all safety risks, even when helmets are not provided.
Serious and life-altering injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, can occur when hit by a car while riding a bike or if a rider falls and strikes their head. It seems irresponsible to provide such bikes without the safety equipment. The question is: should these companies be held responsible?
While the bikes appear to provide an environmentally friendly option for traveling around the city or local areas, the safety implications far exceed the benefits. Helmetless riders, along with inexperienced riders not riding in accordance with traffic laws, may lead to an increase in bicycle accidents in these areas. By providing these bikes without helmets, it appears these companies are brushing off helmet laws.
Further, additional injuries could result when a bike is not maintained or sustains damage, and the bike is then left in a dangerous condition for the next unsuspecting user to come along and use a bike that could be dangerous.