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Policy statement


Vancouver bike share faced with uphill legal climb

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson wants the city to have a public bike system, even if the provincial law requiring cyclists to wear helmets remains.

The current legislation would require that Vancouver have a duty of care to ensure that a person renting a bicycle from a public kiosk wears a helmet. Since the city would not be able to make certain that renters have helmets, it could be held liable if a cyclist rents a bike from an automated kiosk, doesn't wear a helmet and has a serious accident.

Coun. Geoff Meggs had previously told Business in Vancouver that the province's law requiring cyclists to wear helmets is the main obstacle in launching a program in Vancouver similar to those in Montreal, Paris and London – cities that have no law requiring that cyclists wear helmets. Meggs believes that B.C.'s helmet law might scare away some corporate sponsors because those sponsors could have a higher liability risk in a jurisdiction that has a helmet law than in one that does not.

Melbourne, Australia, is likely the only city that has both a bike-helmet law and a bike-sharing program. That program has so far been viewed as a failure. Two months after Melbourne's civic government parked 600 bikes in 50 docking stations in the city, it had only sold an average of 70 rides a day, according to Australia's Herald Sun newspaper.

That contrasts with Montreal's program, which logged a million rides in its first five months.

Business in Vancouver October 5-11, 2010; issue 1093

Mon 4 Oct 2010

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