Strava Website Sued for Negligence Which Contributed to Cyclist’s Death

by JRO on September 20, 2012

William “Kim” Flint, an avid cyclist, was killed while trying to break a speed record that was posted on a cycling website.
Flint Intended to Defend His Record

Flint, 40, was an active user of Strava, an interactive network for cyclists. Users can post routes on the website and attempt to top other users’ speeds on certain courses. For some routes, the cyclist with the fastest time is dubbed “King of Mountain.”

On June 19, 2010, Flint was killed when he attempted to break the speed record posted on Strava while cycling down South Park Drive in Berkeley. He had previously held the record for speed on that stretch of road. When he was alerted that another user had earned “King of Mountain” status for that ride, Flint became determined to reclaim his title.

The speed limit on South Park Drive is 30 mph. Flint was clocked at 40 mph before he braked suddenly to avoid a car. He was fatally injured when his bike flipped over.

According to his family, Flint used his Twitter account to post links to his Strava profile and highlight the routes on which he had earned “King of Mountain” status.

His family filed a lawsuit against Strava. Their lawsuit claims that the company was negligent for not warning users about dangerous courses, including the South Park Drive course. After Flint’s death, the course was marked as a hazardous route.

Susan Kang, the attorney representing Flint’s family, claims that cyclists must break the law to attain “King of Mountain” status. She argued that the company is promoting a culture that encourages breaking the law without emphasizing the risks. She maintains that the company should have done more to stop similar incidents from happening in the future.

Mark Riedy, a spokesman for Strava, says the company will fight the lawsuit. Although the company has offered condolences to Flint’s family, he insists that the lawsuit is without merit. Before gaining access to the site’s features, users must agree to the site’s Terms of Use. The Terms of Use release Strava from liability for any injuries or death suffered by the site’s users.

Bay Area Sees Rise in Pedestrian Fatalities Caused by Cyclists

In another incident in San Francisco, a cyclist sped downhill and ran a red light, striking and killing a 71-year-old man who was crossing the street. Chris Bucchere, 36, was charged with vehicular manslaughter. Bucchere had been attempting to set a speed record for the route through that neighborhood and had an electronic monitoring device attached to his bike. Local surveillance cameras helped experts estimate his speed at 35 mph.

Bucchere was also a user of the Strava website.

Stephanie Ong Stillman, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, has said that prosecutors must show that Bucchere acted with gross negligence in order to convict him for felony vehicular manslaughter. If he is convicted, he may serve up to six years in prison. Bucchere has pleaded not guilty to the charges. This is the third incident in the Bay Area involving a bicyclist fatally injuring a pedestrian in the past year.

San Francisco has experienced a 71 percent increase in bike traffic since 2007. Other cities throughout the United States have seen a dramatic increase in bicycle commuting as well. As the bike movement grows, however, many officials are concerned about the impact on public safety. Although most bicyclists respect traffic rules, others create a dangerous situation when they run stop signs and traffic lights. Cases such as Flint’s and Bucchere’s highlight the dangerous situation posed by cyclists who disregard traffic laws.

This article was written by Karl Stockton for the team at Kanetix. They can assist businesses with their information on CGL (or commercial general liability) coverage comparison.




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