Score One for Bicyclists

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.”