In May of 2018, Uber began its Jump ebike program in Davis by rolling out 180 bikes in the city with 60 going to the UC Davis Campus. Jump’s dockless ebike program differs some from Ford’s GoBike system that uses docking stations spread out across the city. The Davis programs was part of a larger rollout that Uber—which had recently bought Jump—rolled out 900 bikes in the Bay Area region in Sacramento, Davis and West Sacramento.
The advantage of the dockless bikes is that the user can find and return the bike in places other than the docks. In those systems, the rider starts at one of the docks and returns it to another—under threat of a $25 fee—often having to finish their journey on foot.
The Jump bike user can find the bike where it’s at and then lock it with an attached cable to any bike rack found in any of the city’s “furniture zones” of the sidewalk. This is where the bike racks, light poles and benches will be.
So, a typical Davis user might pick up a bike on campus finding it locked by the previous user to a light pole or bench and then ride east on Russel Ave which becomes 5th Street and then chain it to one of the many bike racks or benches along 5th in front of one of the retail shops.
To pay for it, the rider downloads an app and sets up an account. Once established, an OCR box can be scanned which will reserve the bike and charge the account. When locked up, the charges will stop and the money taken from the account, and the bike will be there for someone else. If needed, the user can lock the bike but keep it reserved so it will be there when he or she comes out of the store, although the bike will remain checked out to them and charges will continue.
Davis Jump Bike Accidents
Davis is considered one of the friendliest—if not the friendliest—bike cities in the nation with over 20 percent of its commuters getting to work on a bike. The goal is to make that over 30 percent by 2020, and the pie-in-the-sky dream is to one day make Davis car free.
However, until the last carbon-belching, four-wheeled monster is gone, there are going to be accidents causing significant injuries. The Jump bikes can go up to 18 miles an hour with pedal-assist which adds to the risk of serious injury. Some of the ways Davis ebikers get hurt are:
- In-traffic riding: Davis 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 Davis 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
Once one of these injuries happens, the program’s success or failure might hinge on how the injured gets compensated. During the rollout period, Uber and each city have no express agreement for liability, rather it’s left to existing law and Uber’s liability waiver “agreed” to by each user.
With all those Jump bikes, other bikeshare vehicles, people, cars, delivery trucks, trollies and busses, accidents are bound to happen and people are going to be injured. Someone will need to pay for the piles of medical and rehab bills and trips to the doctor all while missing time from work. But who?
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.
Jumb eBike Liabilty
When a Davis 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 Davis Liability
However, the city might bear some responsibility when the ebiker hits a pothole or a chunk of asphalt. Liability for the city is a bit tricky. A legal doctrine 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 Davis street.
But suing city hall is tough and full of pitfalls, so the best thing for the Davis biker to do is to talk to an attorney who can help them find a source for compensation.
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
Davis 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. They 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.