GETTING LEGAL: Municipality Found Responsible for Bike Park Injuries
A recent Ontario court case found a municipality liable for an accident that happened at a public mountain bike park.
In Campbell v. Bruce (County), the Court dealt with an accident that happened in Bruce County, when a 43-year-old man broke his neck while trying to cross a wooden teeter-totter obstacle called the “Free Fall”. The man, who had extensive mountain trail experience, had gone to the park with his wife and two children. He completed an easy obstacle before attempting the “Free Fall”, which required bikers to not travel too fast or too slow and to jump away from their bikes in the event of a fall. As a result of the accident, the biker became quadriplegic.
The Court found that Bruce County failed to ensure that the injured man was reasonably safe while at the bike park by:
- Failing to post proper warning signs about the dangers associated with the “Free-Fall”;
- Negligently promoting the park as a family destination in their brochure;
- Failing to adequately monitor risks and injuries that occurred at the park; and
- Failing to provide an “adequate progression of qualifiers” to discourage bikers from attempting the “Free Fall” immediately after a much easier obstacle.
This case highlights the potential responsibility of municipalities for bike accidents in outdoor parks. It underscores the importance of providing adequate signs, keeping track of accidents that take place, and ensuring that the public is aware of the dangers they face while riding their bikes in more rugged terrain.
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