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Bike Law Attorney Fights “Recreational Property” Status for Chicago Bike Lanes

Illinois Bike Law attorney Brendan Kevenides made the news last week in his legal fight to block Chicago from calling its bike lanes “recreational property.”

Brendan is representing a 35-year-old cyclist who was seriously injured in 2014 when she hit a sinkhole in a bike lane on North Damien Street. The cyclist’s injuries included facial scars and broken teeth.

The sinkhole had a red circle painted around it at the time of the accident, according to news reports. The city repaired the hole shortly after the cyclist said she intended to hire an attorney.

After Brendan filed a lawsuit on the cyclist’s behalf, the city asserted that the bike lane was “recreational property for which the city has tort immunity.”

The city cited Illinois statute § 3-106, which protects municipalities from injuries on recreational property, such as parks and playgrounds.

Neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury where the liability is based on the existence of a condition of any public property intended or permitted to be used for recreational purposes, including but not limited to parks, playgrounds, open areas, buildings or other enclosed recreational facilities, unless such local entity or public employee is guilty of willful and wanton conduct proximately causing such injury.

A ruling in the city’s favor on the recreational purposes issue would have been disastrous for bicyclists who are hurt while riding in Chicago’s bike lanes and paths.

Last week, a Cook County Circuit Court judge denied the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the recreational property issue.

“If it had gone the other way … the city would have no incentive to properly maintain the bike lanes,” Brendan told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Bike Law will keep you updated on further developments in this case.

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