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Some of John Liu’s best friends are bike share systems

June 25, 2012

“I support bicycling in the city, but I also think we need to be realistic about the potential exposure the city faces.” John Liu, New York City Comptroller.

Now where have I heard that phrasing before?

The story in Saturday’s Times about Liu’s concerns over the city’s potential legal liability should someone a Citi Bike user be involved in an accident could have ended after this graf…

The bike-share contract with Alta Bicycle Share protects the city from claims, Mr. Solomonow said, even those above the insured amount; the company has not faced claims so far over the bike-share programs it operates in Washington or Boston.

…but, of course, it devolves into baseless conjecture after that, with detail-free scare stories which would make the average reader think bike share was about to unleash a wave of financial trouble for the city.

Including the 2006 death of Dr. Carl Henry Nacht on the West Side Greenway as an example of the city’s potential liability from bike share is as senseless and tasteless as it is unrelated.  Dr. Nacht was hit when a tow truck driver crossed the bike path without slowing, “Despite signs telling drivers to yield to pedestrians and cyclists.”  A jogger could have very well been crushed by this same driver in this same spot, but no one would use that tragedy as a reason to stop the New York Road Runners club from handing out 10,000 pairs of free sneakers, if the NYRR wanted to do such a thing.

As Citi Bike gets set to launch this summer, let’s live in the real world.  If an improperly installed air conditioner falls out of a window and hits someone as they’re pulling a blue bicycle out of a docking station, it will not be a “bike share accident.”

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