Death, taxes, and crashing your bicycle are all certainties in life. Whether you are a competitive cyclist, dedicated bike commuter, or simply a weekend warrior, it is not a question of “if” you are going to crash your bike; it is a matter of “when.” However, this certainty does not eliminate the duty of others to keep the road safe for cyclists. Or so says a trial court in California.
In a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County (Hilai v. Sanco Pipelines, Inc., et al., No. 1-13-CV-249442), a cyclist has claimed that Sanco Pipelines and San Jose Water Company were negligent in placing a raised metal plate on the roadway in a construction area allegedly owned and controlled by the Defendants. On September 15, 2015, the court denied the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment which argued that California’s doctrine of “primary assumption of risk” bars the cyclist from recovering for his injuries because “bicyclists who practice their sport on public streets assume the risk of encountering construction on public roads.”
In denying the Defendants’ Motion, the court recognized that “falling is an inherent risk of bicycling.” However, falling because of raised metal plates on the road is not.
Applying California’s “primary assumption of risk” doctrine, the court reasoned that the parties who own or control a roadway have a “duty to maintain the roadway in a safe and useable condition because the nature of the sport of road bicycling is not altered if roadways refrain from creating potential hazards or warn of their existence.” In other words, a cyclist does not assume the risk that metal plates or other potential road hazards may be unexpectedly encountered.
Aside from these metal plates, what are the most dangerous road hazards that you’ve encountered on a bike? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
***Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on this blog do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been or will be formed by any communication(s) to, from or with the blog and/or the blogger. For legal advice or more information, contact Rick Holzworth or an attorney actively practicing in your jurisdiction.