Divvy: New Options Bring New Hazards
Bike sharing has become a growing trend in urban transportation. Opening for service in June of 2013, Divvy was the city of Chicago’s answer to this new mobility option. With a system of close to 5,000 bicycles and 476 stations, and a daily ridership of around 13,000 people, chances are you have seen some of these blue and white bikes around town already.
With Divvy, riders purchase either a yearly membership or a day pass that will allow them to unlock bicycles from the rental stations around town, then when they return the bike to a station they are billed according to their usage. Divvy does not, however, provide helmets or safety information, and it requires users to sign a thorough rental agreement with the company. Among other things, this agreement indemnifies Divvy and the city of Chicago from any liability resulting from the use of the service, and makes the renter financially responsible for the full replacement cost ($1,200) of the bike if it is stolen or irreparably damaged.
Illinois is fifth in the nation in the yearly number of bicycle deaths, and the most recent statistics provided by the city of Chicago report nearly 9,000 bicycle crashes resulting in injuries and 32 fatalities within a six year period. While these crashes only make up a small number of the total bicyclists navigating Chicago’s streets on a daily basis, bicycle accidents have a high likelihood of resulting in head injuries which can lead to lifelong medical issues. A sobering statistic from the motorcycling community that is relevant to bicyclists too is that 61% of damages that occur to the head area of riders involved in crashes occur in places that are not covered by half-helmet
-style protection, such as bicycle helmets.
Bicycles and Traffic Laws
In the state of Illinois bicycles are considered a vehicle and are held to the same traffic laws that cars are. This means that not only do bicyclists have to follow the same rules of the road as cars, but they are also held to the same liability standards as cars. If a bicyclist causes a wreck, they are financially responsible for whatever damages result. While nobody can argue that a car will not cause a lot more property damage than a bicycle can if the two get in a collision, the proliferation of molded plastic body panels in modern automotive manufacturing makes it where even a small amount of damage can cause thousands of dollars in repair bills. This is one of the reasons that there are movements in many areas to require bicycle riders to be registered, insured, and licensed to operate on the public roadways.
Insurance for bicyclists generally breaks down into three categories:
● Medical insurance for the rider
● Uninsured motorist coverage
● Liability insurance
There are companies that offer bicycle-specific insurance policies, but these are uncommon in the United States at this time. Certain insurance policies you already have may cover certain things to some extent. A standard automotive insurance policy UIM rider may cover the insured when they are on a bicycle, and many homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies will cover the insured for liability instances up to established policy limits. Regardless of if you get your insurance through a specific bicyclist policy or through riders on other insurance policies, it is important to make sure that you are properly insured to protect yourself from whatever eventualities we all hope will never occur.
Illinois Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or somebody you know has been hurt in a bicycle accident you could be entitled to recover monetary compensation for your expenses, injuries, and suffering. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at the Dinizulu Law Group will work with you to determine the best way to handle your personal injury claim. Contact us to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.