Prokop Appeal Lost

We have lost the appeal, but we have gained support and direction from the courts for pursuing a legislative remedy

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Released May 21, 2007 by Jim Baross 

We have lost the appeal, but we have gained support and direction from the courts for pursuing a legislative remedy; modifying the State & Highway Code to explicitly state that Class 1 Bikeways (Bike Paths) are not trails….  From http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B184025.PDF the opinion states,

"Because of the legislative blending of paved bike paths (which are used principally for recreation) into the bicycle transportation system (which the Legislature established to achieve functional commuting needs), it may be appropriate for the Legislature to reexamine the trail immunity statute and its application to class I bikeways in urban areas.  Unless and until the Legislature decides otherwise, however, we conclude no basis exists to depart from established precedent."

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Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 11:15:21 -0700
From: Notify@jud.ca.gov
Subject: California Court of Appeal Case Notification for: B184025

> Disposition
> Prokop v. City of Los Angeles et al.
> Division 8
> Case Number B184025
> Description: Affirmed in full
> Date: 05/21/2007
> Status: Final
> Publication Status: Signed and Published
> Author: Boland, Paul
> Participants: Boland, Paul
> Cooper, Candace D. (Concur)
> Rubin, Laurence D. (Concur)

http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/disposition.cfm?dist=2&doc_id=183114

For opinions, go to the following web site:  http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/opinions.cgi?Courts=B and select the Prokop case.
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For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the issue, here is a copy of an explanation given in 1998, yes we've been at this a while, from CABO Director Alan Forkosh.

Date: Sat, 30 May 1998 10:30:35 -0700
From: Alan Forkosh
Subject: [LAB] Court Threat to California Bicycling Network (long)

With the discussion on bike trails, funding for bicycling facilities, and limits on bicycling to these facilities that have posted to these lists, I thought that you should be made aware of a situation developing in California. Below is slightly revised excerpt of a posting that I made to California cycling lists a few months ago, plus a copy of the decision in the Cornell case to which it refers.

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It has recently come to my attention that there is a series of Appellate Court rulings in California that seriously undermine the use Class I trails as part of any bicycle transportation network. These rulings involve Section 831.4 of the State Government Code. The courts have interpreted the section to give the  government immunity for any injury which results from the condition of a trail, paved or unpaved.

The most recently ruling in the series is Carroll v. County of Los Angeles, which was decided last year. Other cases drawing similar rulings were Giannuzzi v. State of California (1993),  Armenio v. County of San Mateo (1994), and State of California v. Superior Court [Young] (1995). Basically, the court has held that Section 831.4, which grants the immunity, applies to any trail which can be used for or provide access to scenic or recreational activities, no matter what other activities that it may provide for.

The effect of these rulings on bicycle transportation are severe. The ruling is of concern even to those cyclists who shun trails whenever possible, because there are many places where a trail provides the only legal way for a bicyclist to continue on a journey. Such places include Rose Canyon and Murphy Canyon in San Diego, Willow Pass in Contra Costa County, the Marinwood-Ignacio Ridge  in Marin County, and the San Andreas Lake connection for Skyline Bl. in San Mateo County. Furthermore, various trails have been funded with the expressed purpose of aiding transportation by bicycle.

An unsuccessful effort was made to have the Cornell ruling depublished, thus not allowing it to be used as a precedent for future cases. One of the arguments raised was that several sections of the Streets and Highway Code provide for standards for transportational trails and declare the state's interest in having them created. However, even if the Carroll decision is depublished, the other cases would remain as precedents.

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The Carroll case appeal failed as has the Prokop case.
CABO directors will evaluate next steps to pursue.
Assistance from other organizations supportive of bicycling as a viable transportation choice are invited to assist.

Jim Baross
San Diego, California
619-280-6908

Chair, SANDAG Bicycle Pedestrian Working Group
Vice Chair, Calif. Bicycle Advisory Committee
President, Calif. Association of Bicycle Organizations
Board Member, Calif. Bicycle Coalition
Chair, Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Bicycling Safety
Spokesperson, San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
League LCI Trainer & Effective Cycling Instructor #185 K-C

"Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on our public roads, just as does every other user.
Nothing more is expected. Nothing less is acceptable."
       Jack R. Taylor

"Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles."
       John Forester

"Same Roads Same Rules Same Rights"
       SDCBC

"Roads are for people, not just for people in cars."
       Jim Baross