Worse than pink spandex …

DAVID Prokop of North Hollywood was enjoying a ride along the L.A. River bike path in 2002 when, like many a cyclist before him, he hurt himself in a fall. Then, unlike most other cyclists – but like many a litigious American – Prokop followed suit by, well, filing suit. Now he’s demanding damages from every taxpayer in the city of Los Angeles, plus a change in state law that would have disastrous consequences for taxpayers and cyclists alike. The story begins when Prokop – an experienced athlete and editor of Runner’s World and Muscle and Fitness magazines – tried to ride through a narrow gate, despite prominent warnings exhorting riders to “walk bike” through it. That mistake resulted in 100 stitches in the forehead when Prokop lost control and crashed into a fence. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! So Prokop has sued the city, claiming the bike exit was poorly designed. He’s also trying to overturn a state law that bars cyclists from suing cities because of crashes on public bikeways. But it’s hard to see why L.A. taxpayers should pay the price for Prokop’s failure to follow directions. And while there’s an argument to be made that cities should be responsible for negligent designs that put people at risk, Prokop’s case shows how easily such lawsuits could be abused. Should Prokop prevail, the cost of building bike paths will go up, and cities will come to regard them as a permanent legal liability. The result would be higher taxes and fewer bike paths – a steep price to pay for one man’s mistake.

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