Someone is going to get hurt on a Seattle bike share ride

Jul 28, 2017, 12:52 PM | Updated: 12:57 pm

(File, MyNorthwest)...

(File, MyNorthwest)

(File, MyNorthwest)

Someone is going to get hurt.

RELATED: Lessons learned commuting to work via Seattle’s new bike share

I know that sounds like an obvious statement about new bike shares launching in Seattle. After all, accidents happen without bike shares. But the recent wave of brightly-colored rides around town seems to have come along with riders who aren’t so bright themselves.

Let’s take my night out on the town last weekend. I was out with my husband at a restaurant along First Avenue in downtown Seattle. While we were walking around, we couldn’t help but notice all the other parties exiting bars, block by block, all finding these new bikes.

All separate groups of nightlifers, hopping on bikes to their next stop — not one with helmets. I heard one group debate whether to open their Uber app or the bike share app. Given that rideshares like to hike prices during prime times, the $1 bike ride won.

In case you missed the memo, for the last 14 years, helmets have been required by law for all cyclists, regardless of age, in King County. When Pronto operated in the city (before it failed), it offered helmets at its stations. These new stationless bike shares do not come with helmets. The bike share apps will remind you of the helmet law. But according to Spin bike share’s CEO Derrick Ko, they can only remind customers to use a helmet, but the responsibility is ultimately up to the riders.

It wasn’t just that one evening that I noticed the no-helmet / bike share combo. It’s become a common conversation on the Ron and Don Show. We’ve all seen it — plenty of riders on the bikes coasting by without protection. Now, as I stated, accidents happen. But there is another phenomenon to consider here – newbies.

Take a look at Seattle Mountain Rescue which reports that there has been a considerable increase in rescues over the past few years. Volunteers with the rescue group note that this aligns with the rise in Seattle population due to the tech boom. We have a new group of people to the region with little experience in the area or even the outdoors of which the Northwest has plenty to offer. This lack of experience in the wild naturally leads to more mountain rescues.

We have a similar issue with the bike shares here in Seattle. The availability of this convenient transportation will draw a new class of riders onto the streets, and sidewalks, of Seattle. They will likely be inexperienced, or else they would have their own bikes. And just like greenhorns getting stuck on a mountain, these new cyclists are bound to find themselves stuck on the road – which can only get worse after leaving a bar and riding away without a helmet.

Is it the bike share company’s fault? Not necessarily. I’ll leave that to lawyers. But these new bike shares can’t just come with a cheap fare; riders need common sense. Don’t drink and ride. Be aware that biking in a city is not the same as hopping around on your BMX when you were a kid. And as smart folks do when going out to the bars, always have protection – your helmet.

Ron and Don


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Someone is going to get hurt on a Seattle bike share ride