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Lyft follows Uber into bike sharing, beginning in Baltimore

Just a couple of weeks after Uber revealed it was getting into the bike-sharing game, Lyft, too, is hopping onto the two-wheelers. While Uber tests out a scheme in San Francisco with ebike company Jump, Lyft’s debut effort involves a partnership with the city-operated Baltimore Bike Share scheme in Maryland. The company more famous for rides in cars than on bikes is investing £270,000 in Baltimore’s scheme.

The initial three-year deal allows Lyft to put its branding onto five of the city’s busiest bike-sharing stations that will also act as quick and convenient pick-up and drop-off zones for Lyft riders. Commenting on the company’s first foray into bike sharing, Lyft’s Mike Heslin said in a statement, “Whether someone is taking a Lyft ride from the suburbs to the city and hopping on a bike around downtown, or taking a bike to one of these hubs and meeting a Lyft driver for a trip to the other side of town, the multimodal transportation future is very bright for Baltimore.” Both the Lyft app and the Baltimore Bike Share app will feature information on each other’s services, but you won’t be able to rent a bike via the Lyft app, nor request a car ride via the bike app.

A launch promotion (use code BBS2018) gives Lyft users a 50 percent discount for up to two rides to or from any of the five designated stations between now and February 28, 2018. Individuals can also redeem the promotional code “Lyft” within the Bike Share app for a free one-month bike-share membership. Baltimore launched its bike-sharing system in 2016 and claims to have the largest electric-assist bicycle fleet in North America.

Hundreds of bikes are available from around 50 stations dotted about the city, and riders can use the service around the clock

“Lyft’s partnership supports the growth and sustainability of the system infrastructure throughout Baltimore City,” Michelle Pourciau, director of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation, said in a statement. “This unique collaboration helps to address traffic congestion in Baltimore and represents our commitment for a multimodal city with fewer vehicles on our roadways.”

Lyft says the partnership fits with its long-term goal “to reduce individual car ownership and to redesign cities around people, not cars.” If its first bike-share scheme sees its investment pay off with more people signing up to its ride-sharing service, look out for similar Lyft-backed efforts across the country.

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Here to revolutionize your commute is Bird, a new escooter sharing company

The bikes of the future are looking more and more like the bikes of your past. We’re talking, of course, about the renaissance of the scooter, which seems to have hit a new stride now that it’s found electricity. Escooters seem to be popping up all over the country these days and have become so popular that a number of companies are now looking to offer escooter sharing systems.

The latest to enter the scene is Bird, a company founded by a man who knows a little something about mobility solutions. His name is Travis VanderZanden, who was previously the vice president of growth at Uber, and previous to that, the chief operating officer of Lyft. But now, he is on his own, and launching a new company that doesn’t offer car services, but rather scooter services.

Bird is based in Santa Monica, California, and over the course of the last six months, VanderZanden has launched around 1,000 of these escooters around the city. So far, he tells TechCrunch, 50,000 people have taken around 250,000 rides. Getting started on Bird ought to be pretty easy.

New riders need a driver’s license and a credit card number (which they enter into the Bird app). Once that is done, you are charged £1 to unlock the scooter and an additional 15 cents for each minute. You will be able to go as far as the scooter can take you and at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.

Apparently, some folks have made Birds take them all the way to Los Angeles International Airport, while others have ridden from Santa Monica into downtown L.A. (about a 15.5-mile commute). For the time being, the dockless escooters are only available from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Once that timeframe is up, Bird employees collect the scooters to clear them off the streets, and then replace them in front of coffee houses and other small businesses, as requested, beginning early the next morning.

So far, Bird seems to be doing quite well. The company managed to close a £15 million Series A funding round. “People are taking notice of how quickly Bird is growing,” VanderZanden said, noting that a number of copycat companies have already popped up. “Preventing car ownership is the goal of all these companies.

I think if all of us are successful, that’s fine.”

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Sharing a child abuse video could land you in legal trouble

A chainmail video on Facebook claiming that by sharing it you can help put a child abuser in jail could instead get users in legal trouble. Law enforcement agencies have already traced the origins of a video showing sexual abuse of a young female to Alabama, but lawmakers in at least six states are warning users that sharing it to attempt to find the perpetrator is also a crime. The video, authorities say, is child pornography — but users as far as France have complained about seeing the video because the video is accompanied by a request for shares to help identify the man in the video.

Sharing could result in criminal charges for child pornography according to the Central Alabama Crime Stoppers, and users that see the post are asked instead to file an online tip with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). “Images and video depicting the sexual abuse of a child are pornography. Sharing them, even if your intent is to help, is a crime and continues to victimize the child,” the Polk County police in Florida urged readers in a Facebook post.

Authorities from Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas have issued similar warnings. The investigation has led police to believe the video originated from Alabama, though other reports suggest authorities haven’t yet determined when the video was shot. Police in Marshall, Texas said the video is being spread through messages and that Facebook users shouldn’t open messages from someone they don’t know.

Users are also warned to look for clues in the text that suggest the attached content could be illicit and delete the message immediately. Like a similar case from 2013, the police also said the message could possibly contain viruses along with that video. Facebook told AI.com that the platform uses technology to prevent images of child exploitation from being uploaded to the platform. Content that is posted is immediately removed once found and the NCMEC contacted, Facebook said.

Social media users tend to be eager to hit that share button when they think it will help but many exploit that tendency. In 2017, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police warned Facebook users to stop sharing missing child posts that didn’t originate from authorities because in some cases, the child isn’t missing but hiding for their own safety. After the Manchester, England attack last year, several fake reports circulated along with the real requests from family members with the #missinginmanchester hashtag.

In 2016, the Los Angeles Police Department warned of another fake missing person report that was possibly an attempt to get users’ sensitive information.

Editors’ Recommendations

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