An appellate court in Brooklyn, New York, recently ruled that bicycling
is a leisure, as opposed to sporting, activity, paving the way for a lawsuit
filed by a bicyclist involved in a bicycling accident caused by roadwork.
The lawsuit contends the road construction company left the road in an
unsafe state, thus causing the bicyclist’s accident.
The accident occurred in 2002 during a group bicycle ride. Incomplete paving
on a roadway resulted in an uneven surface where the newly paved road
met with the existing road. One bicyclist was unable to successfully overtake
the obstacle and fell, causing the cyclist behind him to swerve into oncoming
traffic. She was hit by a car and later filed the lawsuit against the
town where the accident occurred, as well as the construction company
and the water authority for which the construction company was undertaking
the paving work.
Defendants argued that the bicyclist was responsible for assuming some
of the risk that comes with riding a bicycle, but the appellate court
found otherwise: “[I]t cannot be said, as a matter of law, that
merely by choosing to operate a bicycle on a paved public roadway, or
by engaging in some other form of leisure activity or exercise such as
walking, jogging, or roller skating on a paved public roadway, a plaintiff
consents to the negligent maintenance of such roadways by a municipality
or a contractor.”