Sara Carrigan

Now group rides come with a free lawsuit!

Ok, so not only are we at the point where we have to worry about someone putting a wheel wrong or a car pulling across us during a group ride, but now we apparently also have to be on guard against the possibility that if you organize an official ride and someone else gets into an accident, then you are at fault and will be sued accordingly (actually, that’s pretty standard and totally understandable, but the claim still sounds pretty weak)?

Sara Carrigan, former Olympic gold medal winner, is being sued for $750,000 because someone (Mr Milligan) in a bunch ride she had a hand in organizing crashed into someone else (Mr Elsey) during the ride. The claim? From the article in The Courier Mail, “Mr Elsey claims Sara Carrigan Cycling breached its duty of care because the school ‘knew or ought to have known’ Mr Milligan’s standard of cycling behaviour was not sufficient to ensure he posed no foreseeable risk.”

First of all, how are you supposed to know that someone is going to run into someone else, exactly? There is always a foreseeable risk. That’s traffic.

Secondly, the collision occurred when Mr Milligan stopped for a red light, so how are we to know that Mr Elsey was paying attention or taking due care to ride for the conditions himself, any more than Mr Milligan? Who knows, maybe Mr Milligan did indeed brake suddenly and wasn’t riding with due care. These things happen in the space of millimeters and fractions of seconds.

In any case, I hope Sara either has insurance that will deal with this, or that the riders had signed a waiver or something, because this just sounds like a bunk deal.

Group rides are potentially dangerous at the best of times, when all the riders know each other and have plenty of experience riding together on a route that is well-known. Anything can happen, including accidents. Isn’t that part of being around other people? That accidents can happen? Isn’t that why you exercise caution? Isn’t that why you have insurance (which it doesn’t sound like Mr Elsey did).

Anyway, group rides can be fun with good friends of a highly competent group of acquaintances assuming you are also competent. They can be nerve-racking with anyone who isn’t. Know your risks. If you are going to participate in a bunch ride, understand how they work in general, understand how the particular group you are with runs them, and pay attention at all times.

If you are the type of cyclist who turns daily commutes to work into tiny bunch rides with strangers, consider that this is a potential outcome for either of you. You don’t know the ability of the person whose wheel you are sucking, nor do you know the ability of the person who is sucking yours. Personally, I don’t ride this way unless it is with friends and it is expected, and I definitely try not to because I don’t like it when strangers do it to me. It actually quite annoys me.

Think about it.


Header Image:  Tim De Waele via VeloNews