Update on the Prokop lawsuit/appeal

The oral argument event took place Wednesday, Feb. 28th in Los Angeles. Don Harvey and Rock Kendall of Orange Co. Bicycle Coalition, John Forester, a reporter from KFWB radio, and I attended.

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Published March 5, 2007 by C.I.C.L.E.
By Jim Baross

Update on the lawsuit/appeal oral arguments that were held last week.

Los Angeles — The oral argument event took place Wednesday, Feb. 28th in Los Angeles. Don Harvey and Rock Kendall of Orange Co. Bicycle Coalition, John Forester, a reporter from KFWB radio, and I attended.

I thought that our sides' attorney, Karen Coffin-Brent, provided good arguments and responses to judges questioning. She certainly has a good understanding of the issues. Her written brief is available at www.cabobike.org under the Prokop tab.

Results, official findings/decisions, are not expected for several weeks. (You are empowered to generate positive vibrations, thoughts, and/or prayers on our behalf. Sending additional or new donations to our legal defense fund are certainly welcome too. Just ask me or any CABO director where to send contributions. )

It seemed to me that the judges (three) were going to be providing an in depth analysis and, if so, we'd win. At the close of the hearing, when discussions about the next meeting of the Appeal Court at a local law school, one of the judges remarked that it was too bad that our case wasn't scheduled for that hearing because it would have provided interesting and complex legal issues for the law students to hear/learn from; seemed like a good sign.

The win I want is for the court's recognition that a Bike Path, Class 1 bikeway, is to be built and maintained to the specifications established by the State and that the owning agency is responsible… unlike a Trail where the owning agency or party has some immunity for the condition of a route they allow people to use over their property but that they have not improved to any significant degree.

If we don't get the courts to support the distinction… I believe we should be considering options that could include the following:
1. raise more money to support taking this appeal to the State Supreme Court;
2. raise more money and enlist the support of a State legislator to modify existing State codes to clarify Bike Path "standards of care"/responsibility of the Bike Path owner for meeting existing standards;
3. look for another case of injury on a Bike Path that may go un-reimbursed because of the claim of immunity, then support the development and progress of that case so that an appeal that successfully changes precedent is more likely, and raise more money to support that;
4. abandon hope for direct legal or legislative remedy and
a. encourage that no bicycling, except "at your own risk" use, take place on any Bike Path unless the owning agency agrees to their responsibility, and
b. work to deny transportation funding for any future Bike Paths so that no vehicular route/freeway that would deny on-road access would be allowed to be built if it only offered Bike Path alternatives for bicycling (or pedestrian us), and
c. work to have past transportation funding for Bike Paths ($11 million for the LA Bike Path!) returned for spending on REAL transportation facilities.

Jim Baross
San Diego, California

Chair, SANDAG Bicycle Pedestrian Working Group
Vice Chair, Calif. Bicycle Advisory Committee
President, Calif. Association of Bicycle Organizations
Board Member, Calif. Bicycle Coalition
Spokesperson, San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
League 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