Dad Invents Kid's Seat For Bike Shares, Promptly Gets Cease And Desist

There are many perks to bike shares, but there's a distinct advantage for the entrepreneurially minded: you're not allowed to make the bike better. Not by giving it an electric motor. Not by adding a seat to take your kid to school. Nope, nope, nope. Should bike shares really be keeping such a tight reign on their bikes?

This question comes to us today by way of Washington DC, where a dad invented a kid's seat that attaches to Capital Bikeshare's vehicles in seconds and without tools. (Bike shares in various US cities go by different names, but they're basically all run by the same umbrella company, Alta, and use the same bike.) Crispen Wilson came up with the idea when dropping off his daughter to school; the 12 blocks was "too far to walk, but not far enough to drive." But Capital Bikeshare stations were conveniently stationed along the route.

Wilson had been perfecting his design and selling beta versions of the kid's seat for about under $US80. But today, Alta tells Streetblogs USA that it has sent Wilson a cease-and-desist letter. "[T]he use of the Bicycled Capitol Hill Bikeseat is in violation of two sections of the Capital Bikeshare member agreement which prohibit attachments to the bicycle, as well as the use of the bicycle by more than one rider," wrote Alta's director.

Bike shares, which already have to deal with a boatload of liability issues, are understandably nervous about a little user creativity. Save your tinkering for you own bike! OK, but where do we draw the line? The user agreement says riders must not "dismantle or modify a Capital Bikeshare bicycle in any way." Does that include coffee cup holders? A mount for your smartphone?

When New York's CitiBike deemed ShareRoller, an attachable electric motor, in violation of member agreements, its inventor told New York Daily News, "I don't see Citi Bike putting marshals in the bike lanes looking for people's ShareRollers." ShareRollers haven't hit the streets yet, so perhaps we shouldn't be so sure.

Rather than sending in the lawyers (and marshals), though, maybe there's some way for bike shares to collaborate so we all benefit from the ingenuity of our fellow bike share users. When people want to tinker with your bike, it reflects a real niche in the marketplace. Maybe there's room for family friendly bikes or bikes with more storage space in our bike share model. What do you think dear cyclists -- how should we be policing our shared bikes? [Streetblogs USA]

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Comments

    As prevalent as litigation is nowadays, I don't blame them for stopping it... Would the father accept liability if the kid got hurt...? Even if the answer was yes, it's still not going to work...

      I was going to say the exact same thing

    This great invention only goes to show the problem for parents who want to use bikeshare services - there is none that will allow a seat for kids. I've seen the ones that hook onto the back and have wheels on them like a little buggy in Melbourne which you can buy for your own bike. Those things are great and could probably do the trick in this instance as long as he is not the one selling them and advertising them specifically for bike share bikes.

    Legally, they can just add a provision that removes any liability if the bike is modified. Trouble is a court may disagree, and that's where the problem lies.

    It's part of the 'one size (must) fits all' where companies providing goods and services don't want to cater for a minority of users that have slightly different requirements. A good company would find a solution, and then be rewarded by positive customer reactions. The goodwill generated should bring them more business which would help offset any increased insurance premiums. Win-win.

      It's a balancing act between good companies and the customers who sue them

        It's a balancing act between good companies and the customers who sue them
        The lawyers and those that listen to them end up creating far more complex contracts and agreements, with the hope that they will stand up to scrutiny and appeal and will hold up in at least some jurisdictions.
        For instance, limiting the consumer's ability to sue, forcing arbitration, limiting potential damages, and restricting class actions is devious.
        Adding those disclaimers to "likes" on social media is downright evil.

        "Well, sure your son died because the bike he was on fell apart when he was riding because of poor construction, but you liked us on facebook, which means you can't sue us"

        Last edited 05/06/14 12:50 pm

          I may have inadvertently opened myself up to litigation by criticising a company when the terms of service say I cannot criticise them.

    Seeing as the bike company is civil. he should just give them the finger and keeping making them. The 'modifying' is down to the buyer of the seat, not him.

      By creating and marketing something to effectively induce someone to breach a contract could in itself create problems.

    OK I think we can all see what's wrong if we just look ......Child-bag anybody ? It's like an airbag but you just use your child instead when it all goes slightly wrong......

    Gotta love red tape.

    Classic Scenario of everyone focussing on reasons why we shouldn't do something.
    The key opposition why this is being blocked is "someone will sue us and it will get in the media and reported and people will blame us".

    It's sad to see a great idea like this being wasted. Even if the guy did go to the local government and didn't expect any money for this, it would have gone no where.

    If I was the owner of this innovative concept, I would design the product to work on all bikes and that way it moves away from being a council issue.

    My 2c

      If you wanted to put something like this on the market you would need to do a hell of a lot of safety testing and the likes, none of which has probably been done with his homemade solution (and almost certainly all of which it would fail).
      Using a potentially unsafe modification on something you own isn't always legal let alone selling it for other people to use on a product they don't own which is against said products terms of use for this reason and many others.

      "If I was the owner of this innovative concept, I would design the product to work on all bikes...". You mean, like the hundreds of bicycle child seats already on the market?

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