Gaius Whiffin providing Q & A on the 2GB Chris Smith Afternoon Show discussing “Lime Scooter/Bikes”
1 February 2019
Tuesday, 1 February 2019
CS– Chris Smith /Gaius Whiffin– C1,2,3, etc – Callers
CS We had a real fight on our hands last year if you may recall when it came to share bikes, Ofo, oBike, Reddygo. They littered our streets and they were just an absolute nightmare. A disaster from the get go. No-one in government or council jumped on them to regulate them – no one had the foresight to realise what would happen and then you add the fact that they became such a joke – people would put them up in trees – they did all sorts of things – put them in lakes – I even saw 2 bikes on a set of traffic lights in Randwick one day. We managed to get rid of them all – the streets were clean again and then came along Lime. First Lime bikes and now in places like Brisbane, Lime Scooters. You’d think we would have learnt our lesson by now – that if you are going to introduce anything like this, you’d better have a hard close look at how they are going to operate and be used. These share bikes have enormous problems. But what’s got me more concerned this time round, isn’t so much the littering, isn’t so much the misuse, it’s the fact that these Lime bikes and scooters are motorised and I’ve got to say it’s a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, it’s happening already. I received some communication very early this morning from Zeke. Zeke was driving her car recently when someone on one of these Lime motorised bikes smashed into the side of her. Now usually if you are on the road and another vehicle hits you, what do you do? You stop – the other person stops – you exchange phone numbers – you try and work out who was at fault – if you can’t, you leave it to the police – you exchange licence numbers, let the insurers work it out and off you go. But what happened to Zeke? Well the woman who was there – who was thrown to the ground when she hit the car- got up – had a short conversation with Zeke – Zeke was worried about her wellbeing and then when she thought “well we better exchange details so my car can be repaired because there’s a monstrous scratch right down the side of it”. Bear in mind the back end of these bikes are steel – well she decided to say “no thank you – see yah“. She left the bike where it was and skedaddled. Now, Zeke told me that she detected at the time of the conversation that the woman may have had a few drinks which would probably explain why she decided to run off. And you might recall just on drinking and using Lime Bikes –there was a similar case last week – a 23 year old man was charged with drink driving after nearly crashing into a group of diners at Southbank in Brisbane. He was riding a Lime Scooter – not a Lime Bike – but a Lime Scooter and allegedly attempted to continue to ride away before nearly falling over as police called for him to stop; and three weeks ago a Lime Scooter rider was also charged with drink driving after he was riding the scooter on the road – without a helmet!! And failed to stop at a red light. It’s a wonder he’s not a pancake. I’m telling you, this is going to become a big problem because those who are intoxicated and don’t want to drive and find one of these scooters, they think to themselves – I don’t have to pedal this home – it will take me home. And no one will stop me. I could even get on the footpath – anyway – Zeke did the right thing and went straight to the police and said “Well listen – the bike’s there – maybe you could work out from the Credit Card that was used on the bike at that time you could track down the rider“. Ummmm well – they said to her “that wouldn’t work because you don’t know whether the Credit Card was hers – it could be linked to someone else – we don’t even know whether the bike is still there – when we go back it could be a different bike”. So there are problems with police tracking down someone like the rider who hit Zeke and I go back to something that many of you have complained about before, how about we register bicycles. Well in this case, how about we register motorised Lime Bikes, so that when these problems occur and they hit a car, well at least the car owner, the insurer, everyone is covered – because in this case, Zeke now has to go to her insurer – hopefully not lose her no-claim bonus and ending up forking out for the excess. It has scratch marks all down one side of the car and she doesn’t know what to do. So I want to get some advice here. Not only from you on the open line 131 873 – but some legal advice from our good friends at Turner Freeman Lawyers who are great sponsors of this program. Gaius Whiffin is on the line – Gaius G’day.
GW G’day Chris – How are you?
CS I’m very very well mate. I’ve just been through the ins and outs of those particular three stories – it seems as if these Lime motorised bikes are being used by the intoxicated a little bit more than what everyone thought. So she has no leg to stand on here because the police won’t act for her and she can’t ask the company to try and identify the writer because although the Credit Card belonged to someone, it may not have belonged to the rider. I can understand what the police are saying…. can’t you?
GW Yeah – look it’s a bit of a legal minefield and the law really hasn’t caught up with the number of these sorts of well – motor vehicles – they’re merely are– that are on the roads these days and there are different laws in different States which doesn’t help…..
CS Doesn’t help the situation……
GW the situation – at all -….
CS So are they classified as a motor bike or a bicycle?
GW Well it depends on the nature of them….. I believe most of these Lime Bikes are probably classified as or legally considered to be bicycles. Basically there’s what they call a pedelec – now to be a pedelec – the motor has to be electric – there has to be a continuous power output not exceeding 250 watts. You have to be able to peddle to actually activate the motor and the motor must turn off once the speed reaches 25 kilometres an hour and they have to comply with the European Standard. Now if the particular bike reaches those standards, then yes it’s basically considered to be legally a bicycle and doesn’t have to be registered. Anything else, especially if it’s you know – powered by petrol and so forth – it’s basically going to be considered a motorcycle – has to be registered – if it’s not, then it’s an unregistered motor vehicle and the operator is liable to be fined and pulled over. Now, it’s a point when you are actually using these vehicles or actually buying them because there is going to be a large number of motorised bicycles out there on the road that actually don’t meet the standard, probably not the Lime ones, but mainly ones that people have bought themselves and they don’t think it needs to be registered because it is a motorised bicycle but it actually does because it’s going to be legally considered to be very similar to a motorcycle. And you know – it has – you know – in major insurance aspects when you’re either – when you have suffered property damage or even personal injury.
CS Well –…… well property damage – there’s a typical example with Zeke – well she’s out of pocket now and she can’t go to Lime to seek some kind of restitution. She can’t go to the police because they’ve got their hands tied in a way they cannot track the identity of the rider. The rider is off into the wilderness – she’s clear – although she herself may have some severe injuries from the fall – but what happens there? What happens if you fall over on one of these bikes? Can you sue Lime or what happens?
GW Well – no you can’t – I mean if it’s basically your fault that you fall over – if the bike’s got some defect in it then that is a different story – but if it is basically your fault that you fall off the bike – no you’re – you have to suffer the consequences.
CS It’s almost as if the law needs to go through periods of time when things go wrong before they tighten the law to get them right.
GW Well that’s right – I mean there needs to be some sort of – I mean the law at the moment is fairly clear on what needs to be registered and what doesn’t need to be registered. Just a question of whether what doesn’t need to be registered actually should be registered and it’s the same argument with bicycles themselves. If you’re knocked over by a courier bicycle and you suffer injury, well you’re in the same sort of situation where basically the only insurance that can cover you is if the bicycle rider had insurance. In Zeke’s situation, I’m not sure of the contractual relationship between Lime and the person that was using this bike, but you know – I would certainly be contacting Lime and initially at least alleging them to be liable because you might find that they will actually assist in trying to find the person that was at fault. I mean the problem then is that that person could be a tourist.
CS Yes – left the country already….
GW Yes – difficult to get money out of them.
CS That’s for sure. I tell you what – so many grey areas associated with this – and someone like occurred with the bicycle – someone needs to stand up and start saying – hang on – I’m responsible for this – I’m the Transport Minister or I’m in charge of that area, here are the rules associated with these scooters and these bikes. But it’s interesting. Thank you Gaius – Appreciate your time this afternoon.
GW That’s okay – all the best
CS Alright from Turner Freeman Lawyers Gaius Whiffin.