Our Canadian Cities 2554 Views by Dianne Saxe

Quebec courts rule for Cyclists, and against city governments

Two Quebec cases have held municipalities liable, where cyclists were injured when they lost control of their bicycles after riding over unexpected defects in the road. In Wilson Davies c. Montreal (Ville de), the cyclist was severely injured when she was thrown from her bicycle and became a paralyzed from the neck down. The Court rejected the City’s argument that, as the route was not designated for cycling, it was not foreseeable that a cyclist would be injured. The Court concluded that the City owed a duty to provide for the safety of everyone who used the City’s infrastructure in a normal, foreseeable and authorized manner – including cyclists. The cyclist was awarded over $1 million in damages.

In Scanlan c. Montreal (Ville de), a cyclist was injured after riding over an unexpected depression in the road, where the asphalt had caved in. The cave in was camouflaged by paint applied by an independent contractor retained by the City.  The paint created a trap, giving the impression that the road was in good condition.  The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled  that the municipality had an obligation to ensure the safety of its citizens, to correct dangerous situations which could lead to accidents for road users, and to ensure its staff met their obligations to inform road users of potential hazards. The municipality could not avoid liability by simply granting the road painting contract to a third party.


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