Strava countersues family of cyclist killed trying to get KOM title back

GPS tracker app company says cyclist's death was due to his own recklessness

by Simon_MacMichael   October 19, 2012  

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Strava, developers of the GPS tracking app that allow cyclists to virtually compete against each other by logging their times on various segments of road, has filed a countersuit denying responsibility for the death of a California man who lost his life in 2010 when he crashed into a car while attempting to regain his record on a downhill stretch.

According to Bicycle Retailer, Strava has denied the 26 charges brought against it by William ‘Kim’ Flint’s family in a lawsuit for negligence. In a response lodged at San Francisco’s Superior Court, the company has filed a countersuit against his father, William K Flint I, who is also administrator of his estate.

The company claims that when Flint became a member of Strava on 7 October 2009, the terms and conditions he signed up to electronically contained a clause that excluded Strava from being responsible for claims arising from a member’s use of the site.

Flint died in 2010 while he was trying to regain his Strava King of the Mountains title on Grizzly Peak, California, after learning through the webite that another rider had beaten his best time.

On the descent, riding 10 miles an hour above the speed limit, he was killed when he struck a car as he rode on the wrong side of the road, and his family claims, among other things, that Strava enourages dangerous riding on roads ill-suited to racing and without adequate safety measures.

Speaking in June at the time the lawsuit was filed, the family’s lawyer, Susan Kang, said: "They assume no responsibility. They don't put cones out. They don't have anybody monitor and see whether a course, or a specific segment, is dangerous," she added, saying that if Strava was aware a particular segment is dangerous, the company should remove it from the site.

In response, Strava spokesman Mark Riedy commented: "The death of Kim Flint was a tragic accident, and we expressed our sincere condolences when it occurred in 2010. Based on the facts involved in the accident and the law, there is no merit to this lawsuit."

The company’s countersuit filed this week maintains that it is not liable for Flint’s death, which it insists was due to his own reckless riding.

As reported here on road.cc in June, Strava changed its terms and conditions shortly after the Flint family brought its lawsuit, although it denied that it had done so specifically in response to that action.

27 user comments

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Only in America...

posted by jackh [105 posts]
19th October 2012 - 12:15

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tragic though it is, surely the rider is responsible for there own actions. Do people have no idea of self preservation?

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posted by mrmo [1027 posts]
19th October 2012 - 12:36

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I suspect the rider probably did know what he was getting into, but his family are looking for someone to blame other than their nearest and dearest...

posted by AlasdairMc [3 posts]
19th October 2012 - 12:56

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I so hate this blame culture.

You ride a bike and you look where you're going. End of.

Sometimes it's nobody's fault but your own. I'm sorry for the family, but also conflicted as I'd quite like to slap them.

He was tanking down a hill trying to make a PB - you really need Strava to point out the wisdom of staying in control, or on your own side of the road?

Idiots.

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
19th October 2012 - 13:05

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jackh wrote:
Only in America...

Such a litigious society are they for real. Some people need to eat more potato's and get back down to earth Wink

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
19th October 2012 - 13:22

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to be fair Strava could employ somebody to stand by the side of every road in the world with a big sign saying "Careful now, mind how you go!" other than that what can they do if someone wants to ride their bike in a dangerous way?

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posted by andybnk [90 posts]
19th October 2012 - 13:55

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Strava only supply the technology, individuals decide where and when a course is set.

antonio

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posted by antonio [933 posts]
19th October 2012 - 14:30

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A very ,very long time ago a friend and myself were stopped for speeding on our bikes in a 40mph limit. We came battering down a steepish slip road that merged onto a very busy road and overtook a line of cars on the inside. One of them was a police car and its occupants caught up with us a while later and gave us a long lecture. I was only a teenager but even then I was aware that riding above the speed limit on a road and in the presence of motor vehicles was a risky activity.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
19th October 2012 - 14:31

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jackh wrote:
Only in America...

You think?

posted by Matt_S [182 posts]
19th October 2012 - 15:04

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Individuals definitely have to take responsibility for the choices and actions but Strava does have some responsibility here too surely, to its users and to those affected by the way its users ride when the are trying to set a time.

Strava at the very least tacitly encourages its users to adopt a racing mindset on the public roads (and even on cyclepaths if they are segments, it will email you if your time gets beaten and there seems to be no way of flagging or removing dangerous segments.

As an example we ran a story a couple of weeks back about a female cyclist injured by another cyclist speeding on the Bristol-Bath bike path… which is a segment on Strava and which despite people asking for it to be removed, is still a segment on Strava. We don't know if the speeding cyclist was trying to set a time, but it is a possibility.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
19th October 2012 - 16:32

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tony_farrelly wrote:
but Strava does have some responsibility here too

Why? Do you ALWAYS have to blame someone else when your stupid stunt goes wrong?

Ride carefully! There are enough motorists out there who would kill you at the drop of a hat and write you off as an insurance claim!

posted by Animal [33 posts]
19th October 2012 - 16:52

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Strava encourages people to ride harder on segments that they want to set a best time on. Strava does not make people break the law, jump lights or ride on the wrong side of the road, the individual does that. If the families lawsuit wins then it is essentially saying that no one is responsible for their actions if they make the decision to break the law by something as petty as a website saying 'Oh no! XXX broker your record, go get it back' Really, if that's all it takes then 'Oh no! You've just lost your record, send me all your money to get it back!'

posted by md6 [154 posts]
19th October 2012 - 16:56

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Lacticlegs wrote:
I so hate this blame culture.

You ride a bike and you look where you're going. End of.

Sometimes it's nobody's fault but your own. I'm sorry for the family, but also conflicted as I'd quite like to slap them.

He was tanking down a hill trying to make a PB - you really need Strava to point out the wisdom of staying in control, or on your own side of the road?

Idiots.

It's the culture of blame that's to blame.. to quote The Thick of It.

Quite a brave step here by Strava and the right one.

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

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posted by ragtag [154 posts]
19th October 2012 - 17:37

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A couple of references here to "speeding", is there now a speed limit for pedal cycles that I am unaware of? If not, then please don't give the "anti" lobby a stick to beat us with.

Tony, what does this mean? "We don't know if the speeding cyclist was trying to set a time, but it is a possibility."
Do you even know that the cyclist concerned was registered on Strava, or is it just pure speculation?

I don't condone inconsiderate behaviour on or off a bike, but imaginary speed limits and wild assumptions don't help anyone

posted by alun [44 posts]
19th October 2012 - 17:49

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Does there need to be a speed limit? It's a mixed use cycle path not the A4 bypass.

Of course I don't know whether the cyclist was trying to set a time on Strava, the point is that from the description given by the woman she hit the speeding cyclist was a performance cyclist and someone has made the cycle path in to a section on Strava so it's certainly not beyond the bounds of possibilty that she was trying to set a time.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
19th October 2012 - 18:57

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I'm not saying that people aren't responsible for their actions - in fact I said that at the start. What I am saying is that if you're a company that is encouraging people to compete and in fact relying on them to do so as part of your business model you should be alive to the fact that some of them are going to take risk that may result in harm to themselves or others.

Plus of course ignoring red lights or taking corners on the wrong side of the road must be a sure fire way to set a fast time… d'you think that didn't occur to the people who set Strava up?

All I'm saying is that as I understand it they don't have a way of letting their users flag segments that are inappropriate or dangerous and it would be better if they did rather than simply hiding behind their T&Cs.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
19th October 2012 - 19:22

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Alun; Isn't there a national speed limit? A level above which no vehicle should go?

From memory (I'm only guessing because I took my driving test 30 years ago and haven't needed the information since) I think in this country it may be 70mph. Of course, I'm probably wrong as most drivers seem to travel at 80+ on the motorway network.

Anyway, that figure falls to the limit indicated on the round signs at the side of the road if lower, and for certain vehicles (we used to call them 'HGVs' but I think they're now referred to as 'LGVs') and other vehicles towing a trailer.

So, in this country at least, I think you'll find there is a speed limit for bicycles. Generally, its unattainable for all but elite athletes.

Oh, btw red lights, stop, give way and any other signs equally apply.

As I say, I may be out of date. A recent trip to London certainly suggests I am - clearly bicycles are now above the law. No wonder other road users get sick of the attitude of cyclists. Especially when they're ill-informed about basic road safety.

Ticktock

posted by Michael5 [121 posts]
19th October 2012 - 19:41

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Strava have a 'report segment as dangerous' section so if a section is a bit silly - (like racing through the pedestrian tunnel going over the dual carriageway in Glasgow) then the segment is delisted so there are no ranks although segment still exists. KOM section applies to going uphill - next time I bust a gut going up the crow and feel a bit woozy then strava watch out - I might sue for pain and suffering ....

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posted by richdirector [52 posts]
19th October 2012 - 19:57

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tony_farrelly wrote:
I'm not saying that people aren't responsible for their actions - in fact I said that at the start.......

All I'm saying is that as I understand it they don't have a way of letting their users flag segments that are inappropriate or dangerous and it would be better if they did rather than simply hiding behind their T&Cs.

Of course you can flag .... Go to segment page then hit action / flag.

But use responsibly as riders should self police.

http://surfabike.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/photo11.jpg

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posted by richdirector [52 posts]
19th October 2012 - 20:07

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I blame the person who invented the round wheel Angry we never had this problem with square ones Thinking

posted by SideBurn [764 posts]
19th October 2012 - 20:12

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Ticktock - to answer your question there is national speed limit but it applies to motor vehicles not pedal powered ones.

Likewise the lower limits on other roads don't apply to bicycles either.

Traffic lights, stop signs, give way and other signs do indeed apply to all vehicles including bicycles.

Shay

Shay

posted by shay cycles [210 posts]
19th October 2012 - 21:24

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all the above points are good..both for and against..we will never find the answer to this as people who ride ARE competitive and motorists DO speed..obviously a near lethal concoction..add strava (which i belong to! ) and you have a potentially explosive mix.

personally i believe that every person who slings a leg over a bike OR gets behind the wheel of a car (and i do both!) knows what they are up to...we are ALL responsible,whichever vehicle we deign to drive..

wheels make you move...and it does'nt matter what they are attatched to...you can hurt yourself or someone else on them,so.....

be careful,if you have to race,in a car or on a bike,you can.. just look where you're going and consider everyone else in the world, christ, there's enough tarmac for everyone.....
Thinking

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posted by keith roberts [178 posts]
19th October 2012 - 21:54

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Quote:
and there seems to be no way of flagging or removing dangerous segments.

As an example we ran a story a couple of weeks back about a female cyclist injured by another cyclist speeding on the Bristol-Bath bike path… which is a segment on Strava and which despite people asking for it to be removed, is still a segment on Strava.

The Strava segment page does have a link to report dangerous routes. I don't know how the reporting works though (backlog?), perhaps community moderation of some kind is needed. Tower Bridge no longer shows the leader-board, which seems like overkill to me (marked unsafe!).

The route I cycle to work coincidentally has several Strava segments on it, some with traffic lights (kind of unavoidable for longer routes in London), this doesn't cause me to risk my life trying to beat others times. It would be a shame if court cases killed Strava.

posted by kie7077 [431 posts]
20th October 2012 - 13:31

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I do not use Strava.

I have come fairly close to being hit by oncoming traffic while descending because I've crossed the centre-line in corners whilst trying to put time into the people I'm riding with.

In that case, the "competition" between me and them is direct (we are all on the same road at the same time and in visual contact). We have (very loosely, by mutual consent) decided to race down a hill and have not adopted a rule that says we are to stay in lane.

It seems to me that, if I then cross the centre-line and hit a vehicle coming up the hill, this is pretty unambiguously my fault for being on the wrong side of an un-closed road and for "racing" in circumstances that aren't very safe.

It's not very clear to me that a race which is mediated by Strava and takes place against riders who are not on the same road at the same time produces a different legal result following the same crash.

To achieve that would require the claimant to demonstrate that Strava had a duty of care towards its users to ensure that each section was reasonmably safe for treating as a race-course. That just isn't a realistic possibility, as Strava is just mediating what roads are in play - it doesn't decide that. On the contrary, it ought to be absolutely obvious to a normal user that Strava was NOT warranting any segment to be safe and that normal risk assessment of going silly-fast was still absolutely required in all cases.

posted by BigDummy [279 posts]
23rd October 2012 - 15:45

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how can strava be responsible for a track (segment) they did not create?
strava creates a leader list.. effectively a chalk board, for the users to write their times in.... strava literally provides nothing, if we wanted to we could write our lap times on a brick wall each day and come back to check if someone was quicker. who is responsible then!?
considering a track/segment is an open strtch of road, that is in no way closed off for a race (as it would be for a martathon, for example), strava are not responsible for that either!
completely ridiculous to blame someone else.
its like saying, someone swan the english channel, and i got it into my head to beat them, so without any preparation i ran into the sea fully clothed and tried to swim it. i drowned,,,,, and its their fault because i tried to compete with them!!!

Feel the fear and do it anyway

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posted by hood [116 posts]
5th June 2013 - 15:12

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Feel the fear and do it anyway?

No. You are on the road with other people, and you have a duty of care to them, and that also means to car drivers and their passengers, and anyone they hit while swerving to avoid you.

Strava is just mediating what roads are in play?

No roads are normally "in play". Only race if the road has been closed for you.

posted by Beardandsandals [4 posts]
5th June 2013 - 15:48

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@Beardandsandals - think you've misunderstood Hood's comments. 'Feel the fear and do it anyway' is their signature, not a statement made in regard to this subject.

Otherwise, hood is advocating taking responsibility for one's own actions. Use of the word 'in play' is just an expression of speech.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2942 posts]
6th June 2013 - 13:43

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