Is there a liability to using the path for pedestrians and bikers while training on a racing bike - in Florida? Can I use the path, too?
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This will differ by locality, but in general the rule is that cyclists yield to pedestrians. This means that if you are involved in a collision with a pedestrian there will be a presumption that you were in some way at fault or negligent and will likely have to prove instead that the pedestrian was at fault before any claim for liability can be made.
I would suggest not training or riding on the bike path at higher speeds. If it's allowable in your locality. Get back on the road with the cars! I believe it is safer, although data doesn't exist to support that claim (bike path crashes generally aren't reported).
I've had 2 higher speed (25+mph) collisions with pedestrians (Dc Area), both caused by pedestrians suddenly veering across my path and I was unable to avoid. 1 was a small child who disobeyed her parents and ran across the path.
The second was a runner w/ ipod and didn't hear my audibles and changed direction at a point on the path where you wouldn't expect (he was turning around and heading back). This was actually quite common and I had numerous near-crashes with runners who couldn't hear anything over their music.
This was the reason I stopped using the bike paths for training/commuting when I realized it wasn't safe for anyone (either cyclist or pedestrian) if the cyclists are travelling that fast.
Training on a bike path?
Not sure about Florida, but, training on a bike path can be great....
All you need to do is to determine the bike path usage. I've found several paved pedestrian/bike paths mainly used on weekends. And, during the weekdays, the path is mine.
I also note that the paths I use are generally empty once the weather is cold.
Florida? Who knows about your bike paths? I'd bet that this time of year, your bike paths are getting crowded?
And it's not complicated... you don't train on a bike path full of other users. ...you are more than welcome to train on an empty path... Use your judgement.