From a trail to the courtroom, sometimes unfortunate incidents happen

The Roanoke River Greenway-file from Roanoke Outside

The rolling hills and mountains in the Roanoke, Virginia area are beyond spectacular. To me, it's a runner's and cyclist's dream come true with paths and trails that accommodate these activities. One need not look further to partake in these activities than the Roanoke River Greenway.  I only passed through Roanoke years ago, but if I were to have the time, I would love to check out this Greenway. It look spectacular.  

Like all winding trails throughout the world, trail users  always need to be cautious. Whether pathway participants are going out for a walk, run, skate, roller blade adventure or biking, everyone needs to be responsible.

In June 2012, a mishap took place on the Roanoke River Greenway. A cyclist was approaching a runner who decided to take a u-turn to head back to his starting point. The u-turn was so sudden that the cyclist did not have time to react to the runner's supposedly sudden move. The result of this action was a nasty collision resulting with a seriously injured cyclist. The impact was so severe, it cracked the cyclist's helmet which led to a brain injury and amnesia. The runner was badly bruised, but didn't need any medical attention.

Over three years later, a lawsuit was settled between the two parties awarding the cyclist with $300,000 in damages. The argument was that the runner should have heard the cyclist's call which is typically, "On the left!" The argument here is that the runner should have stayed where he was on the far right side of the trail so that a safe pass could have occurred. While saying that he typically hears these calls, on that particular day,  the runner maintains that he didn't hear that particular cyclist's call. The runner added that he suffers from high frequency hearing loss and does not wear hearing aids while on the trail.

I confess that as both a cyclist and a runner, I'm a bit torn on this verdict. On the one hand, if I'm on certain trails either running or walking, I'm passed up by Lance Armstrong-wannabes who cycle so fast and so close to you, it's amazing that I am unscathed. Frankly, I'm shocked that we haven't heard about more trail tragedies in recent years. On the other hand, when I'm on the bicycle, I have to be extra cautious as to what might jump out in front of me - whether it's a walker or runner's sudden move or possibly a deer. Trust me, I have come close to a few on Alpharetta's Big Creek Greenway, but nothing like this cyclist who went straight into buck in Sausalito, California.


In the Roanoke case, the cyclist was able to sue another party while in Sausalito, who can that cyclist sue? Obviously the buck has been at-large since that incident occurred not too far before Christmas Day 2014. I doubt that the jurisdiction where that accident took place could not be held responsible. In essence nothing was going to stop that buck from jumping in front of the cyclist, not even a guardrail. Seriously, there's no doubt that the cyclist in Roanoke incurred mounting medical bills and honestly needed to do something about her situation. Again, I'm torn on this one.  I have to say that it's sad when people who are looking for simple recreation on a gorgeous day, wind up in an ugly courtroom situation. Life really throws folks many curve-balls. 

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