Electric cycle service refuses to take responsibility, blaming the last person to ride the bike
Miles BrignallMon 3 Jun 2019 07.00 BST
One of bike-sharing company Lime’s distinctive green e-bikes recently fell on to my parked car, causing around £900-worth of damage. However, the California-based company has refused to take responsibility. The first I knew of the incident was when a neighbour told me that she had found the bike on my car. I have contacted Lime three times to see how I can claim compensation, and provided evidence. The only response I have had was telling me which department handled these sorts of problems.
I have informed the council and the local residents’ association, as there are quite a few bike-share e-bikes being left in our road. The company doesn’t seem to want to address my complaint. What do you advise?
CL, north London
It seems you can hardly walk down a street in central London without bumping into a bike-share bicycle left by the previous user. As I write this, there are five on the pavement outside our King’s Cross office.
To get started, you pick up a bike via a mobile app by scanning in its QR code, ride it to your destination, and then leave it there for the next user. According to Lime’s website “ending the ride is as easy as locking the rear wheel and parking safely out of the way of pedestrian traffic”. But this can be anywhere … there are no designated docking areas or bays.
To keep it upright in its final parked position, two retractable stands come down from the frame, so they are prone to falling over, or being knocked over by wheelchair users and others – in this case on to your car.
Two weeks ago, no fewer than five Lime bikes left outside the Guardian HQ were lying on their sides. They reportedly have a sensor that relays this information back to the company.
We asked Lime about your case and, while it was originally helpful, asking for the details and the statement from your neighbour, nothing happened.
Finally, after almost a month, came a statement in which the company denied any liability. Instead, it put the blame for the damage firmly on the last person to ride the bike. But, rather unhelpfully, it said it would not divulge their name unless you were able to provide the company with a “court-ordered subpoena”. It also said it makes every effort to urge its customers to #RespectTheRide”.
So this leaves you with a £900 loss and the likelihood of having to claim on your car insurance.
Consumer expert Jonathan Silverman, a senior consultant with the London law firm Laytons, says it is an interesting case.
“The company appears to be relying on the fact that it has launched an education programme to persuade users how to park these bikes, but I’m not sure how much evidence there is for that – particularly here in London,” he says. “If it were to go to court, the reader could argue that the company had failed in its duty of care to the wider public. For a claim to succeed, I think you’d have to show that these bikes are defective. I can say, from personal experience, they are somewhat top-heavy and prone to falling. There is plenty of evidence online of them falling over, and it is worth trying a claim,” he adds.
Whether you feel able or are willing to take the matter to the small claims court, only you can decide.
The whole episode reflects badly on Lime, but some may feel that, sadly, this kind of behaviour is what we have come to expect from tech firms.
Compiled this week by Miles Brignall
Lime e-bike company won’t pay for £900 damage to my car | The Guardian
Electric cycle service refuses to take responsibility, blaming the last person to ride the bike Miles BrignallMon 3 Jun 2019 07.00 BST One of bike-sharing company Lime’s distinctive green e-bikes recently fell on to my parked car, causing around £900-worth of damage. However, the California-based company has refused to take responsibility. The first I knew… [Read More]