Some law to think about: Injured on a Bike Paths

At Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP we recognize the need for continued study and keeping up developments in the law. Over time, the law changes either through the passage of new laws by Parliament, Legislatures, local government or also by the interpretation of law by the Courts. Keeping up with these developments is critical to QTMG’s success in representing you. This series, Some Law to Think About, is written to highlight some of the important legal considerations that go into every personal injury case that we at QTMG handle on behalf of our clients. We hope that you find this interesting and feel that it is indeed some law to think about.


The injury victim was riding his bicycle on a City owned path in a fairly rugged area. When coming over a hill, at an excessive rate of speed, he sees before him two other persons. The pavement on the path is chewed up and quite close to the path are jagged rocks. The injury victim, to avoid a collision with the other persons on the path veered to miss them, lost control of his bicycle, struck his head on the rocks, and sustained an injury that left him a quadriplegic.


On these facts, what law comes in to play and what is the obligation of the City, if any?


The Court held, which ultimately was upheld on appeal, that the duty of care imposed on the City was under the Occupier’s Liability Act. The law provides that in circumstances like this, where a person knows the area and enters into an activity where it is clear that the risk is assumed by the participant, that liability arises only where it is demonstrated that the City had a duty not to cause an intentional danger nor to act with a reckless disregard to the safety of the persons who are upon the property.

In this case, the Court found that the City was well aware of the chewed up asphalt as well as the presence of rocks and boulders quite near the trail/path. This was found to be a reckless disregard for the safety of the user of the path even though the injury victim was well acquainted with the condition of the trail/path.

The fact that the injury victim was riding too quickly, failed to yell at the persons in front of him to get out of the way, and that he failed to keep a proper look out resulted in a finding that he was 60% responsible for the accident.

Accordingly, the City was found 40% responsible for the losses sustained by the injury victim.

If you are interested in reading further on the issues outlined herein you may wish to consider reading Herbert v. Brantford (City) decided by the Ontario Court of Appeal in February 2012.