By April 2018, Uber rolled out its Jump ebikes in San Francisco. It was the first of the industries dockless ebike program, and it allowed Uber, which had just purchased Jump, to place 250 bikes throughout the city. This differed a bit with other bikeshare programs like Ford’s GoBike which uses docking stations scattered throughout the city.
In a typical use, the rider downloads and app and sets up an account. After finding a bike, the rider scans the OCR using the app which reserves that bike to the account. Once done riding, the bike can be chained and locked to any public bike rack found in the “furniture zone” of a sidewalk where you would find benches, light poles and of course, the bike racks. Once done, the account is charged based on how long the bike was used.
In March of 2019, the city authorized another 250 Jump bikes based on the success of the program. According to the company’s own reports, ridership has increased steadily from the start of the program and is holding steady at over 50,000 trips a month in San Francisco.
In another sign of its popularity, the Presidio, a National Park in San Francisco allowed Jump bikes on its grounds for users to use in the park which is a first for the national park system.
Jump Bike Accidents
With all this popularity comes the dark side: accidents and injuries. Jump bikes offer two types of bikes, pedal and pedal-assist. The pedal-assist bikes can go up to 18 miles per hour on its own or faster if the rider can pump that fast.
This speed can be deceiving for many riders, and accidents occur. There are many other ways Jump bikeshare riders can be injured as well:
- In-traffic riding: San Francisco has over 250 bike lanes in the city, but out of almost 700 miles of city streets where the ebiker is riding in traffic.
- Dooring: This occurs when the ebiker is riding in a bike lane that runs between the right lane and the line of parked cars and a motorist opens their door to get out.
- Potholes: A single pothole or a crack in the pavement can send an San Francisco ebiker onto the pavement. One of the biggest pothole injury suits settled for 3.25 million for severely injured cyclist.
- Pedestrians: When not riding, the ebiker is a pedestrian and is then at risk for ebikers hitting them or leaving their bike in front of a doorway or walkway.
Who Pays for Jump Injuries
With all those Jump bikes, other bikeshare vehicles, people, cars, delivery trucks, trollies and busses, there are bound to be injuries. When this happens, the injured is going to incur piles of medical and rehab bills along with trips to the doctor and possibly the need for medical equipment all while missing time from work. So, who’s going to pay for this?
The answer is in part dictated by how the injury occurred. In a typical auto accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay for the damages. But what if the Jump bike hits a pothole or a crash in the pavement. Or maybe the battery catches fire or someone trips over a discarded ebike, what happens then?
Any of these could legally bring liability to either the bikeshare company or the city, or both.
Jump Ebike Liabilty
When a San Francisco ebike rider sets up their account, they are required to accept the user agreement before they can activate their account. In doing so, the provisions of the agreement attempt to waive the users’ rights to hold Uber responsible for certain injures.
However, under California laws, this sort of waiver is limited and doesn’t always absolve the company from a personal injury. For example, if the battery catches fire, the ebiker can sue the bikeshare company and possibly whoever made the battery or the bike itself, and the waive won’t affect the suit.
If anyone is injured by the ebike malfunction, then they should talk to an attorney who can sort out the liability issues and make a proper claim for losses.
City of San Francisco Liability
When the ebiker hits a pothole or a chunk of asphalt, the city of San Francisco may be liable. However, Liability for the city is a bit tricky. First, a law called “sovereign immunity” prevents a citizen from suing any of the layers of government in California for any liability. However, California also passed a law that allows for some limited civil suits including injuries from potholes, road conditions and other areas where an ebiker can be injured while riding on a city street.
However, there are limitations, and if a San Francisco ebiker is injured by some street condition, then he or she should talk to an attorney to see if the city is liable.
Common Jump Bike Injuries
With all the various ways an ebike rider can get injured, it’s no surprise in the number and severity of the injuries that occur when using an ebike. Some of these common injuries are:
- Head Injuries: Wearing a helmet can reduce some injuries, but not all, and every bike accident usually ends with the cyclist hitting the pavement, and sometimes with their head.
- Concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury: A blow to the head can cause a mild or severe concussion which can result in a TBI.
- Facial Injury: This happens often when wearing a helmet without a screen or any protection on the face leaving it vulnerable to injury.
- Broken Wrists: Many cyclists will hold tightly on the handle grips when they anticipate a crash, and this can cause broken wrists.
- Broken Legs: Many times, the cyclist is thrown off the front of the bike and their legs can hit the bike or the vehicle.
- Chest Injury: Sometimes a rider will be sent violently forward and hit their upper torso on the handle bars.
- Road Rash: Sliding on the pavement, especially any area uncovered, will result in moderate to severe injury to the skin.
What to do if Injured
San Francisco bike riders who are injured while riding an ebike have a wonderful resource at their disposal. Bay Area Bicycle Law is a firm that deals exclusively with those injured in a cycling or ebike injury. We offer a free consultation where you can ask questions and have your specific case evaluated.
This can make the difference between getting a small settlement or getting the full compensation allowed by the law. The attorneys at Bay Area Bicycle Law have years of experience representing clients in all sorts of bicycle-related injuries including ebike cases. Start putting someone on your side, call us at (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online. If you still wonder if we’re the right firm for you or even if you need an attorney, read this this for help answering these questions.