U.S. cities hoping to lessen air pollution and traffic congestion through bike programs are facing unexpected questions over funding, accident liability and even “anti-bike” activists.
The first enthusiastic wave of bike-sharing programs worked on an honor system — bikes donated or left over from police auctions were left on racks throughout cities, trusting that users would bring the bikes back. But bikes were stolen.
Cities such as Washington, D.C., are starting to model a Parisian bike-sharing system, where users would register with a credit card, and check out a bike by swiping a card.
Funding bike programs is also a problem, and many programs were delayed because lawyers are trying to figure out who would be liable if a biker gets hurt while riding. In San Francisco, a bike program was stalled because a resident said the city had not reviewed how the bikes would affect traffic. That city now plans to add bike lanes (Alan Gomez, USA Today, Oct. 2). — HDM