Wednesday, 3 September 2014


Provisionally, the German High Court has ruled that a popular American online service—which to my understanding essentially provides match-making for a much older craft to ply, hitchhiking.
Formerly, a prospective rider could enter his our her itinerary, be it across town or to the airport terminal, and take up the offer, most like, of the lowest or timeliest bidder. It is a bit like car-pool, only made more complicated among absolute strangers that might be perhaps going the same way and impossibly click-happy. Although the protest of the taxi-drivers, who saw their market-nook knocked away, was an important aspect, the justices' decision ultimately took into account the matter of public-safety. As dangerous as hitchhiking is reputed to be, this new scheme could be even more risky, with the winning coach, rickshaw or carriage not necessarily having adequate training or insurance for all liabilities. Although an earlier ruling against services that helped connect people with a spare bedroom or couch with budget-travelers came about over similar concerns—with the spectre of a housing shortage looming in the background but appearing as a favour to traditional hoteliers, a certain anti-entrepreneurial agenda can come across, particularly with a little spin. Of course, bulletin-boards, thumbs and other old-fashioned methods buck legislation. What do you think? Insurance-coverage for Germans is a serious and not slap-dash thing and maybe such models—the hitching-up—are not culturally ready.