Insurers have in the past refused to pay injury compensation claims to injured cyclists because cycling – they argue –is a “dangerous recreational activity” for which they enjoy liability immunity under Queensland’s Civil Liability laws.
The point was taken only a few years ago by the liability insurer for the Brisbane City Council against a rider who was thrown from his bike on encountering unfinished roadworks that had no prior warning.
Brisbane’s District Court rejected the argument because it found the ride was for the purpose of physical fitness. Road cycling did not in the judge’s view, involve a “significant degree of risk of physical harm” as required by the immunity legislation.
That’s not to say the argument might not come before a higher court that might take a different view.
But if the rider’s purpose is for transport from A to B or physical fitness, the activity will most likely be considered to be outside the scope of the immunity because it is not “recreational” and a cyclist injured as a result of someone else’s negligence will be entitled to compensation just like any other road user or pedestrian would be.
In the 2013 case, cyclist Edward O’Connor came on to a 20 m stretch of a recreational bike course at Shorncliffe that the council had prepped for re-surfacing 3 or 4 days earlier and had yet to lay down the final asphalt layer.
There was a nearby “bike lane” of which he took no advantage because – he said – it was frequently obstructed by rubbish, glass, weeds and debris.