Bike Crashes, Law Changed

BIKE CRASHES, LAW CHANGED

In May, 2011 the Connecticut House of Representatives voted 142-1 to amend the Recreational Land Use Act in order to extend recreational land immunity to Connecticut cities and water districts. This legislation was largely seen as a reaction to a civil lawsuit won by injured cyclist Maribeth Blonski, who was severely injured in May, 2002, when she accidentally crashed into a metal barrier erected across the Red Loop bike path in West Hartford, fracturing her neck. The barrier had been erected by municipal employees in response to concerns of terrorism after 9/11 and preventing vehicle access to a nearby reservoir.

The new law will shield towns from injury claims that stem from use of recreational public areas such as bike paths, hiking trails, and rest areas. However, the legislation differentiates between "unimproved" public areas, which towns ostensibly have no control over, and recreational facilities that have been built up or maintained by a town - such as pools, playing fields, and ball courts. Because of the inherent ambiguity in the statute, whether an area is covered by the statute or not will require careful legal analysis by experienced legal counsel familiar with this area of law.