Bad news out of Hartford, CT: A mountain biker who was injured at the West Hartford Reservoir (managed by the Metropolitan District Commission) sued and won $2.9 million from a jury. Maribeth Blonski, who once hosted a mountain biking television show on a local access channel, was injured when she clipped a steel gate installed to keep vehicles out of the area. Blonski broke four vertebrae in her neck, though the long term implications of her injury are not mentioned in the article I read. The jury did find, however, that Blonski was (only) partially responsible for her injuries.
As mountain bikers we all need to take personal responsibility whenever we ride because when landowners get sued, they close trails to bikes. For every landowner who loses a lawsuit like this, there are easily a dozen or more who get scared and close their trails just to be safe.
Every time we saddle up we make a choice and sometimes that choice can have unforeseen consequences. Mountain biking is a dangerous sport (that’s part of what makes it fun) and just like everything else, there are risks involved. If something seems unsafe to you (like a metal gate), get off your bike and walk around it or even better, get back in your car and go home. Don’t risk hurting yourself and ruining a good thing for everyone else.