Family sues Strava website for cycling death

June 18, 2012 7:08:28 PM PDT
Imagine barreling down an isolated stretch of roadway, exceeding the speed limit, on your bicycle. An Oakland bike rider lost his life doing just that and now his family is blaming a website.

A lawsuit was filed in San Francisco on Monday by the family of a bicyclist who died when he crashed into a car. It comes almost two years to the day their son died. The family is suing an Internet company because they say the company's website encouraged him to speed.

In the Tour de France there's a stage in the competition where a cyclist is crowned "King of the Mountains." William "Kim" Flint had captured that title in an amateur online race, speeding down a hill in Berkeley's Tilden Park and the 41-year-old engineer apparently died trying to keep his record.

"His family basically wants justice for him," said Susan Kang, the Flint family's attorney.

Flint's family is suing San Francisco-based Strava -- a company that hosts virtual races and rewards winners who use a GPS system to track their own time and that of competitors.

Flint flew down the road in Grizzly Peak June 19th, 2010, at least 10 miles above the posted speed limit of 30 mph, after learning someone else on the Strava site had clocked a better time. He was fatally injured when he suddenly braked to avoid a car and his bike flipped over. The lawsuit accuses Strava of negligence.

"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," said Kang.

Strava spokesman Mark Riedy issued a statement saying, "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."

ABC7 News legal analyst Dean Johnson calls the lawsuit a stretch. He said, "If the theory is that Strava could have and should have seen the dangers on these courses, then the cyclists who were actually there certainly could have and should have seen the same risks."

Steve Bollman has cycled the same steep piece of road as the victim did and said he has mixed feelings about the lawsuit. He said, "On the one hand, I could see why you would think they should have some responsibility. On the other hand, descending on a bicycle is very dangerous business."

But Kang says if Strava knows a route is dangerous, it should be removed from the site.

"I strongly believe, and Mr. Flint's family strongly believes, that it is only a matter of time before somebody else dies," said Kang.

In fact, another high profile accident is being tied to the website. The cyclist who killed a pedestrian in San Francisco's Castro District, according to prosecutors was tracking his time on Strava.


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