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Old 04-17-08, 10:40 AM   #1
alpinist
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Injured bicyclist sues King County over hazard in path

You tell me...

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/...lawsuit17.html

By the way, when you get to the bottom, click on "Sound Off", and you'll see the comments posted by readers - riders and non.
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Old 04-17-08, 10:41 AM   #2
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The text:

Injured bicyclist sues King County over hazard in path
Wheel hit hole, fall put rider in coma for weeks
By HECTOR CASTRO
P-I REPORTER

A Seattle man is suing King County for $20 million, saying that debilitating injuries he suffered in a bicycle accident resulted from a poorly maintained metal plate in a county-designated bike path.

Jeffrey Totten was injured Sept. 4, 2006, while on a bike ride with friends, according to a statement issued by his lawyer.

Natasha Jones, with the King County Executive's Office, said that it was too soon to comment on the case and that attorneys for the county were reviewing it.

Totten was with a group riding down Novelty Hill Road in Redmond when the front wheel of his bike hit a hole in the road caused by crumbling asphalt around a metal monument cover placed in the path.

Totten's wife, Danielle Leavell, said the impact catapulted her husband, and he landed on the pavement, striking his head. Despite his bicycle helmet, Totten suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for several weeks.

Once an engineer with an Issaquah consulting firm, Totten now lives in a California care facility, where he is still trying to recover from the accident, said Leavell, who spent eight months in California to be near her husband.

Now Leavell, who has a commercial photography business locally, travels regularly to California to visit him. He is still undergoing extensive therapy and can no longer walk unaided.

His family and friends plan to hold an online auction beginning next month to raise money for his medical care.

Leavell said she believes that the county should have done a better job of maintaining the bike path, particularly since there is such a push by local governments to get people out of cars and onto bicycles and the accident happened on a designated bike path.

"It comes down to responsibility," she said. "That's what I feel very passionate about."
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Old 04-17-08, 12:04 PM   #3
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How about a picture... so we can see if this guy is just an idiot that failed to plan ahead, or if the city is being stupid about hazards.

If this thing can be seen on google maps, he may have a point... if it is the typical meter cover... well, perhaps a bit of looking ahead on the cyclist's part could have prevented his spill... maybe a helmet would have helped too.
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Old 04-17-08, 12:28 PM   #4
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How about a picture... so we can see if this guy is just an idiot that failed to plan ahead, or if the city is being stupid about hazards.

If this thing can be seen on google maps, he may have a point... if it is the typical meter cover... well, perhaps a bit of looking ahead on the cyclist's part could have prevented his spill... maybe a helmet would have helped too.
It says he was wearing a helmet...

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Old 04-17-08, 12:32 PM   #5
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It says he was wearing a helmet...

Aaron
You're right. I stand corrected.

So much for helmets.
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Old 04-17-08, 01:17 PM   #6
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I was a little confused by the article which seems to indicate at one point that he was on a road, and another point that he was on a bike path.

This article says it was a bike lane on a downhill. http://www.bikingbis.com/blog/_archi...6/3643808.html
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Old 04-17-08, 03:20 PM   #7
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Maybe in 2006 it was different, but I don't recall Novelty Hill ever having a bike lane (except at the Avondale intersection, and the crest by Trilogy shopping plaza.) I live at the crest of Novelty Hill road and ride it almost every day (from Trilogy to Avondale) and there is no bike lane going down the hill from Redmond Ridge Rd. until you get to the marked turn lane split at the Avondale intersection.
The King Co. Park & Rec. maps show Novelty Hill Rd. as a bicycle route, but do not make any claims to a bike lane. The map legend lists Novelty Hill Rd. as "Moderate to Heavy traffic with wide curb lane or paved shoulder", not "On Street bicycle lane".

It sucks that the guy's permanently injured, but I don't see where King County is at fault because this guy didn't watch where he was going. Novelty Hill is full of potholes, crumbled roadway around manhole covers, tire-grabbing pavement cracks, gravel, and blown-down tree debris. I'm surprised I'm still in one piece after some of the pre-dawn runs I've taken down it.
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Old 04-17-08, 03:25 PM   #8
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Novelty Hill is full of potholes, crumbled roadway around manhole covers, tire-grabbing pavement cracks, gravel, and blown-down tree debris. I'm surprised I'm still in one piece after some of the pre-dawn runs I've taken down it.
Ditto for most of the city, esp. South Seattle.
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Old 04-17-08, 03:27 PM   #9
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I hate to see the guy injured, too. On the other hand, the least little flaw in a road CAN wreck a cyclist under the wrong conditions, so I hate to see everyone suing the government everytime they have a wreck, too. Maybe the solution is a no-fault bicycling insurance.
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Old 04-17-08, 03:30 PM   #10
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It's a potentially ugly precedent to set; similar to the guy who sued the city (or was it county?) for injuries sustained due to poor road conditions during RAGBRAI, and now some towns don't want RAGBRAI coming through because of liability concerns.
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Old 04-17-08, 05:55 PM   #11
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Has anyone else crashed as a result of this 'hazard'?
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Old 04-17-08, 06:15 PM   #12
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I'm a little mixed here; sure, it could have been hard/next to impossible to see the hazard under the conditions, or it could be as simple as the guy not paying attention, keeping his 'scan' going (you gotta when you're dealing with pavement -- it's a survival thing!)

For the guy to suffer such brain trauma WITH a helmet on is sad...would have died for sure without it.

I, too, would like to see pictures of the area in question.
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Old 04-17-08, 06:23 PM   #13
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he mustve been going pretty fast to be catapulted into a coma while wearing a helmet. ive seen plates like the one theyre talking about on my path but they weigh close to 300lbs and it would take a decent sized truck to move it out of place. something isnt right about this story nothing adds up. but the county should and can be held responsible for not checking on the plate
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Old 04-17-08, 06:43 PM   #14
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Not really all that surpirising that the helmet didn't help very much. They're simply not designed for that kind of impact. Better than nothing, true, but only just.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:26 PM   #15
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Helmets are designed to provide protection at 12-14 mph. If you hit something at 30 mph, the helmet will - if it doesn't just fail entirely - reduce the impact to the equivalent of 27 mph.
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Old 04-17-08, 08:07 PM   #16
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he mustve been going pretty fast to be catapulted into a coma while wearing a helmet. ive seen plates like the one theyre talking about on my path but they weigh close to 300lbs and it would take a decent sized truck to move it out of place. something isnt right about this story nothing adds up. but the county should and can be held responsible for not checking on the plate
This wasn't a construction plate, it's a monument cover (aka well-cap.) It's a utility access cover about 8" across, and the pavement is crumbling/sunken around it.

There's at least a dozen of these things that I dodge on my way down Novelty Hill every morning. I've been riding this route for months, at speeds up to 44mph (personal best this morning!) in the dark, in the rain, in the snow, and never had a problem.

It's not the county's fault that this guy didn't watch where he was going. Dozens of people ride this road for a daily commute, and I've never heard of anyone else taking a header on a manhole cover.
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Old 04-17-08, 10:21 PM   #17
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You're right. I stand corrected.

So much for helmets.
He might be dead if it wasn't for the helmet...
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Old 04-17-08, 10:38 PM   #18
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since bike paths and bike lanes seem to attract drainage grates, manhole covers and poorly patched utility cuts like ***** attracts flies, he may actually have a case....



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Old 04-18-08, 05:55 AM   #19
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I suppose that the keys will lie with state law dealing with the nature of the city's duty, whether the condition of the hazard breached that duty, and whether the city has some form of immunity. And on the other side, the amount of duty to keep a lookout the cyclist has under these circumstances.

I'm convinced that bicycle paths designated by authorities should be designed, constructed, and maintained to be safe for reasonable conditions. This would include being safe at night for riders with basic lights (read "no holes, dips, root bumps, covers, plates, curbs, posts), being safe for a mix of traffic in the days (read "clear markings, clear sightlines), being safe at reasonable bicycle speeds (read "fast"), and being clearly integrated with other transport modalities so that intersections and parallel stretches don't cause trouble. This is possible, but would take thought, commitment, and money. Short supply of all.
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Old 04-18-08, 06:00 AM   #20
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You're right. I stand corrected.

So much for helmets.
It could have been worse without.
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Old 04-18-08, 06:10 AM   #21
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This is really fact specific, and I don't want to say who should win this fight, but this is how I see the general issue.

We cyclists need to pay careful attention to road conditions. It's on us to stay safe. But I don't want to let the government off the hook for failing to properly maintain a road. That's especially the case when it's a designated bike path/bike lane. Those spaces are specifically designed to attract less-skilled cyclists. Bike lane skeptics are frequently told that the lanes are needed because less-skilled cyclists don't want to bother to learn to ride in traffic. So those lanes/paths should be designed and maintained to keep them safer for cyclists who aren't as careful as they should be.
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Old 04-18-08, 07:04 AM   #22
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Everyone keeps mentioning bike lanes and bike paths, even the articles, but let me state this again: I live on a side street off Novelty Hill Rd, I commute on this hill at least 2x weekly, and aside from a 1/3 mile at the top (flat) of the hill near the shopping plaza and a 50m section in an intersection at the bottom of the hill, there are no bike lanes.
This road has a paved shoulder, but no specific provisions for bicycles.
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Old 04-18-08, 07:19 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
Everyone keeps mentioning bike lanes and bike paths, even the articles, but let me state this again: ...there are no bike lanes.
This is A&S; bike lanes are the cause/catalyst for every negative thing that could happen to a cyclist.
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Old 04-18-08, 10:25 AM   #24
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Similar actions in central indiana, nighting cycling on a golf cart pathway . . .
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...=2008804150394
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...=2008804170340
"A Fishers man who was riding his bike on a golf cart path when he hit a rut and fell is blaming Ironwood Golf Course for his resulting paralysis.

In his Hamilton County lawsuit, Stephen W. Bickel claims golf course operators knew that adjoining Windermere residents used the paved paths for biking and showed negligence with digging that left a ditch in the pathway

Robert F. Wagner, the lawyer representing Bickel and his wife, Jean Bickel, described his client's accident in the lawsuit.

"As he was returning to his home, he encountered a large, deep cut in the golf cart path, which was barely visible, negligently dug and lacked adequate barriers, warning signs or warning lights, all of which was the responsibility of the defendants," the suit says. . . "
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Old 04-18-08, 12:38 PM   #25
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It could have been worse without.

yeah, he could have suffered a cut as well.

(geez - even when they don't prevent injury, they do )

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