Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My father was in a somewhat serious bike accident a few days ago. The result was a compound fracture of the ulna ~2" below the elbow, a dislocated radius, and possibly a mild concussion. He underwent surgery to repair the fracture, spent two days in the hospital, and is recovering.

The accident occured on a multi-use trail that carries moderate pedestrian and bike traffic at slow speeds. The cause of the accident was most likely a raised section of the concrete path (see photos) running parralell to the direction of travel. According to my father, he was traveling at a speed of 10mph when he went down. He thinks he may have swerved to miss a skateboarder, got his front tire caught in the beforementioned crack, and he may have hit a elevated concrete curb alongside the path as he fell; his memory of the event is not complete and I was not there as a witness. I believe a police report was filed as he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and there was an officer on scene.

I had nearly crashed in the same manner at the same place not more than two weeks ago and felt the area was generaly unsafe for cyclists. More troubling, there are similar cracks throughout this section of the trail.

I would like the city to fix this to prevent further injuries and can't help but feel they are somewhat responsible for the accident because of the condition of the trail. Has anyone had similar experiences? How were they handeled? Would talking to a local bike club about this get the city to take it more seriously? Would talking to a lawyer be a good idea? I appricieate your feedback.

Edit - Clarification
 

·
Rollin' Stones
Joined
·
2,560 Posts
Ouch.

I hope that your dad is O.K and gets well soon. MUT's generally fall under the Parks and Rec. boards jurisdiction. I'd prepare a presentantion to show them at their meeting. Since they are not controlling your dad's handlebars, they are not directly responsible for the accident I'd guess. Or at least that's what they'll come up with. I'd not get a lawyer. You are looking at the situation as needs to be fixed to avoid further accidents? That's a pretty good position. If you get a lawyer it looks like you want something out of the accident. A good angle may be a letter to the editor of the local paper too. Most of these folks are probably elected officials. It is possible to be a thorn in their sides if you choose to do so. I feel bad for your dad. but, you are up against city hall. You may actually face a harder road than he.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
grind it off

I first start with solution for the city. they could probably just "grind" off the high section at an angle to make the transition a bit less dramatic.

a possible reaction by the city could be to close the trail to bikes, if it is considered unsafe for cyclists.
 

·
You're Not the Boss of Me
Joined
·
7,746 Posts
I have several thoughts.

First, be aware that in most states there are governmental immunity statutes that can substantially bar claims for defective road/sidewalk design. I don't know where you live, so I can't tell you how it applies in your area. In Colorado, governmental immunity bars claims regarding design, but not regarding maintenance. Your situation would open a can of worms about whether this is a design defect or lack of maintenance.

But setting aside the unique legal problems associated with suing the government, let's think practically about whether this is truly a defect at all. That is, was anyone negligent? I mean, there is no guarantee that any sidewalk, road, parking lot, etc. is completely level and that it doesn't require an eagle-eyed user. Concrete paths by definition have seams, ridges, and changes in surface (say, at bridges). This particular defect strikes me as within the norm for path conditions.

Finally, be careful what you wish for. Easy claims against the government for MUT accidents are simply going to result in fewer MUTs.

Don't get me wrong; I feel bad for the accident. I had a life-changing accident on the bike in 1998 and spent nearly a year on crutches. My fused ankle means that I can't do a lot of sports I used to do. But sometimes, bad things just happen and nobody writes a check. I think your situation may, IMHO, be one of those times.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
hummm, that's some real luxury smooth pavement compared to what you would find here in Montreal, both road and bike path.....

I think it's like that due to it being concrete and needing expansion joints? Not an engineer so not sure....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
That's a control joint, there isn't a way to fix it that won't affect it's performace and cause other cracking of the pavement surrounding it. Sorry to hear about your dad, however, that looks to be a very nice MUT. You should see the the pot hole and cracks I deal with daily.
 

·
Scary Teddy Bear
Joined
·
14,791 Posts
Well

kpcw said:
I hope this fellow's Dad heals well, he is lucky in that it could have been worse.

JToll, did not know about your accident/ankle, hope you are okay. Your two cents is sense that I totally agree with...that MUT has a huge flaw in it, that divide is quite clear and dangerous to all. I had my wheels get stuck in a San Francisco trolly track and I cannt believe I did not fall downhill at 25mph. Had I fallen, it would have been my fault.

That said, it is nearly protocol to get a lawyer and sue. I imagine there would be some level of negligence if the town, county or state was contacted in advance and knew of this potential flaw in the MUT etc.

Fixed is a good person indeed and a lawyer (a rare combo...KIDDING). Perhaps he can weigh in.

JTolleson is a lawyer as well, and I happen to agree with her, the knee jerk reaction here would be to sue of course, the problem is. The city may simply decide to shut it down, the trail that is, and not build any more. So I agree with J, be careful here. Good luck in whatever you decide to do, and I hope he's better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
436 Posts
DH001 said:
My father was in a somewhat serious bike accident a few days ago. The result was a compound fracture of the ulna ~2" below the elbow, a dislocated radius, and possibly a mild concussion. He underwent surgery to repair the fracture, spent two days in the hospital, and is recovering.

The accident occured on a multi-use trail that carries moderate pedestrian and bike traffic at slow speeds. The cause of the accident was most likely a raised section of the concrete path (see photos) running parralell to the direction of travel. According to my father, he was traveling at a speed of 10mph when he went down. He thinks he may have swerved to miss a skateboarder, got his front tire caught in the beforementioned crack, and he may have hit a elevated concrete curb alongside the path as he fell; his memory of the event is not complete and I was not there as a witness. I believe a police report was filed as he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and there was an officer on scene.

I had nearly crashed in the same manner at the same place not more than two weeks ago and felt the area was generaly unsafe for cyclists. More troubling, there are similar cracks throughout this section of the trail.

I would like the city to fix this to prevent further injuries and can't help but feel they are somewhat responsible for the accident because of the condition of the trail. Has anyone had similar experiences? How were they handeled? Would talking to a local bike club about this get the city to take it more seriously? Would talking to a lawyer be a good idea? I appricieate your feedback.

Edit - Clarification
Consult a LOCAL attorney. Many states (such as NY) require a "Notice of Claim" to be filed against municipalities as a precondition to any suit. In NY, such a notice must be filed w/in 90 days of the date the injury was sustained. Your dad should do whatever is necessary to preserve his rights so that he needn't rush in determining his course of action.

Also, some states require that a municipality be placed on notice of defects in pavement/sidewalks/etc. before they can be held negligent. In other words, other persons must have reported the unsafe condition and the municipality must have ignored those previous complaints.

The fact that your dad was riding the bike does not mean that the municipailty would be absolved of all responsibility for maintaining an unsafe condition -- most states allow liability to be apportioned.

Again, consult with a LOCAL attorney to assess your dad's rights.
 

·
jaded bitter joy crusher
Joined
·
19,723 Posts
jtolleson said:
Don't get me wrong; I feel bad for the accident. I had a life-changing accident on the bike in 1998 and spent nearly a year on crutches. My fused ankle means that I can't do a lot of sports I used to do. But sometimes, bad things just happen and nobody writes a check. I think your situation may, IMHO, be one of those times.
I think you're misunderstanding the original poster. He or she sounds as though the question is not suing for compensation for the accident but contacting a lawyer to pressure the city to remedy a known hazard on the MUT.

This is still a two-edged sword. If the city receives a letter from a lawyer notifying it of the hazard and the city does nothing, then future accidents might be able to claim negligence, even reckless disregard, which could potentially circumvent sovereign immunity (although not in Colorado, where the state can drop six-ton boulders onto buses without incurring significant liability for the death and destruction that result). This could lead the city to remove the hazard either by fixing the path or to closing it to bicycles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,546 Posts
FattyCBR is dead on. the crack is control joint or expansion joint. It was designed to do what it is doing, that is preventing cracks on the large sections of concrete slab. the only way to correct it is to replace the concrete path with an asphalt one but that has it's own problems. your father who i hope is doing better has just discovered why i never ride assigned bike trails. they are usually the worst maintained roadways. Sue the city/state and you'll see the design of these paths change eventually (within 15years), but the municipality will probably do a quick patch of the offending area. Nothing will happen.
 

·
You're Not the Boss of Me
Joined
·
7,746 Posts
Fredke said:
I think you're misunderstanding the original poster. He or she sounds as though the question is not suing for compensation for the accident but contacting a lawyer to pressure the city to remedy a known hazard on the MUT.

This is still a two-edged sword. If the city receives a letter from a lawyer notifying it of the hazard and the city does nothing, then future accidents might be able to claim negligence, even reckless disregard, which could potentially circumvent sovereign immunity (although not in Colorado, where the state can drop six-ton boulders onto buses without incurring significant liability for the death and destruction that result). This could lead the city to remove the hazard either by fixing the path or to closing it to bicycles.

I wasn't so much reaching a conclusion about the OP's question, which was a pretty open ended inquiry, so much as adding my thoughts about the global issues, including whether there's a legal claim for the injured rider. PS -- prior notice of a defect may be important in traditional premises liability law but changes nothing under most governmental immunity laws. And I still have concerns on a public policy level about lawyers pounding the table to remedy seams (whether misengineered or not) in publicly built MUT's... sounds like a recipe to end MUT's. Or at least that would be my fear.
 

·
jaded bitter joy crusher
Joined
·
19,723 Posts
jtolleson said:
I wasn't so much reaching a conclusion about the OP's question, which was a pretty open ended inquiry, so much as adding my thoughts about the global issues, including whether there's a legal claim for the injured rider. PS -- prior notice of a defect may be important in traditional premises liability law but changes nothing under most governmental immunity laws. And I still have concerns on a public policy level about lawyers pounding the table to remedy seams (whether misengineered or not) in publicly built MUT's... sounds like a recipe to end MUT's. Or at least that would be my fear.
I agree that these seams appear to fall short of the sort of thing for which lawyers are needed and I agree about the danger of the city saying, "The heck with MUTs. They're just trouble."

Also, thanks for your views on prior notice and sovereign immunity. A little more research on government immunity for premises liability turns up the distinction that many states waive soverign immunity for "special defects," which are defined as excavations, obstructions, or other defects posing "unexpected and unusual danger to ordinary users of roadways." In such cases, prior notice is relevant to government liability, but this probably does not apply to the case at hand because the joints in the MUT pavement don't seem "unexpected and unusual."
 

·
jaded bitter joy crusher
Joined
·
19,723 Posts
FattyCBR said:
That's a control joint, there isn't a way to fix it that won't affect it's performace and cause other cracking of the pavement surrounding it.
There's no way to make a control joint whose width is either twice as wide or half as wide, so it wouldn't exactly match the size of a bike tire?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,546 Posts
the joints are designed to move with the expansion and contraction of the concrete. the white stuff is the expansion material. the gray stuff is the elastomeric material that was supose to give, but the sun has dried it. it could start out as a 1/2" joint and grow through the seasons. No way to eliminate them, cracks would just form anywhere. Yea it wasn't a clever idea to put this down the middle, but most city engineers design to specifcation standards set by the city. if thats similar to my city they don't care about use, bike, joggers ,skaters, bladers. the federal gov't will provide funds to build them but in my city that means painting a stripe and placing a sign. trails go nowhere, not connceted to each other and never maintained since the city didn't build them with their money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Update

Thank you all for the insight. We will be contacting the city to see if the problem can be resolved in a few days. We picked up the police report today and it stated there were no witnesses to the accident as well as not including the most severe of my father's injuries; the broken arm. It made no mention of the path conditions.

This portion of the MUT is near the most elaborate part of the city and while I agree that it looks nice it isn't very functional for cyclists. It is 250 yards in length and there are tens of miles of asphalt paths before and after the problem area. These MUTs consist of a double lane asphalt trail that is about 8' wide, have fewer hazzards, and they are very functional once you get outside the populated areas. I would like to see this type of path implemented in this area, but I know it is wishfull thinking.

I don't think the problem lies with the expansion joints. I am not well versed in the engineering aspects of such a path, but I thought expansion joints were to allow the lateral expansion of the concrete slab. It appears that the whole slab section has settled on the side near elevated curb (see attached photo) which caused the opposite side to elevate above the other slabs and the sealant to fail. I have come to this conclusion because of the reaining sealant on the curb where the slab use to be. I am assuming this type of movement is not ordinary because only a few sections of concrete demonstrate it. There is also a spray painted marking on the slab that appears to be aged (evident in second photo). I take this to mean the city knew there was a problem. If someone knows what the marking means I would like to know.

I will post updates as they are available.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top