Strava sued over death of William Flint in Berkeley Hills


William “Kim” Flint was a 41-year-old electrical engineer who died in a cycling accident in the summer of 2010. It appears he was descending a road in the Oakland Hills in California, braked hard and lost control and the crash proved fatal. The family of a William Flint is now suing Strava, who’s website allows bikers and runners to compare their times on routes.

The family of 41-year-old William Flint sued the Strava website for negligence on Monday in San Francisco, alleging it encouraged him to speed. Flint was doing at least 10 miles above the 30-mph limit on a hill in Berkeley’s Tilden Park two years ago when he braked to avoid a car and his bike flipped over. The Oakland man reportedly had learned someone else on the Strava site had clocked a better time.

Strava timed segments are very popular with cyclists since you can race yourself and others at any time. Any ride can contain an Individual Time Trial just like they do in the Alpe D’Huez of the Tour de France. But imagine if the Tour de France hosted a time trial down the Alp D’Huez. Such is the equivalent of the dark side of Strava. They allow downhill segments and can motivate riders to ride fast and take risks down a road or mountain downhill section.

Strava does not create these segments so they assume no responsibility for the damage they can cause. But they are enabling downhill racing on dangerous road sections and mountain singletrack trails where there is two-way traffic. And just as Strava can motivate a rider to pedal as hard as they can up a hill, Strava can influence a rider to descend faster than they’ve done before.

The William Flint accident occurred on June 19, 2010 while descending down Grizzly Peak in Tilden Park, Berkeley, CA. Reports say that he was the KOM record holder for that descent and someone beat his time before the accident. In the past two years, Strava has become widely popular and many cyclists have used it regularly for their road and mountain bike rides. Since then, Strava has designed in a reporting system where users can flag a segment as dangerous. After a certain threshold, the segment may be removed by Strava.

Is the company to blame, is technology at fault or the user?

Cycling accidents will always happen on roads and trails. But if a technology company is enabling downhill Time-Trial races on roads and trails, does the number of accidents and fatalities increase? Does the company bear any responsibility?

The lawsuit Summons document is available HERE.



About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • Dave says:

    Not to be insensitive, but the suit over Strava encouraging him to speed is ridiculous. People need to be held accountable for their own actions. I’m sorry that this man passed away, but in the end, he made the decision to speed, not the computer. If he were racing a friend who was actually physically there, would the family be suing the friend instead?

  • Chad says:

    Of course Strava does not bear responsibilty. It chills me to think that this has even been suggested. Mr. Flint’s death, while no less tragic, was his own responsibility just as we all take our lives into our own hands the moment we wake up in the morning. We must, at all times, understand out limitations. Accidents happen and life is fragile.

  • jay triad says:

    sorry for their loss. but in this instance, it would definitely benefit society if we had loser pays laws.

  • Julie says:

    Gee, I guess nobody ever went 40 mph downhill on a road bike before Strava existed. (rolls eyes)

  • Dan says:

    I disclocate my shoulder frequently when I crash.

    I try to better myself every time I ride.

    I do not give up.

    McDonald’s doesn’t make people fat.

    Guns don’t kill people.

    The dog didn’t eat your homework.


  • bonita-apple-bum says:

    Very dad story. This is a personal responsibility issue. If you try to jump 50 busses because Evel Kenevil jumped 49… That said there definitely needs to be loser pays laws for this kind of situation.

  • Buddha says:

    This is what wrong with our country, people never own up to their actions and always blaming others for it. I hope the judge will throw this case out the window. Just like the lawyer who tried to sue the person who text the driver that got into an accident.

  • Karl Johnson says:

    Total shite! With or without strava human beings bieng human beings will always try to compete against themselves & others around them. It’s that competitive instinct that allowed us to walk on the moon.
    Did this guy never race down this hill before strava came along?
    Though I’m saddened by their loss, his family should be looking closer to home to find someone to blame. Personally I hope this court case fails miserably.

  • ken says:

    People must be responsible for their own actions. Is not stravas fault in any way.

  • joed says:

    they should also sue cyclocomputer makers, bike company, road builders …, and didn’t they let him out the door?

  • Jeff Burnett says:

    I think if you sue someone and lose, they should be entitled to whatever you were suing them for. This would stop a lot of stupid suits like this one. This is like blaming the spoon for you being fat.

  • jason says:

    I hate hearing stories like this. sad accident – yes. But people, take some damn responsibility for your own actions. family are assholes…..

  • Fizzy says:

    My heart goes out to the family after losing their loved one, that is never something easy. However, they should rejoice the he passed doing something he, obviously, thoroughly loved. By attempting to sue Strava they are going to do nothing more than add insult to injury as their is nothing that they could have done to “stop” the rider from doing this. Accountability is key here, and as many of the other posters have said, this world has completely lost its sense of accountability. I hope that I can go in such a way, enjoying my life and being happy in my final moments (be that on a bike, or in a hospital bed with no regrets).

  • Marshall says:

    Perhaps they should sue the inventor of the Internet or the Inventor of GPS or the Inventor of the Transistor. YEAH, it’s the transistor’s fault! Without transistors, none of this could happen!

    Also, it appears that he was ‘breaking the law’ (speeding).

    I wonder if the family chose to sue Strava OR. . .if some ambulance-chaser attorney found this family and told them that he would ‘take care’ of them.

  • Francis says:

    Is there a Strava for cars? I’m sure many would be curious how they would do on timed road segments. The website would have a disclaimer saying that all incidents are the personal responsibility and choice of the participants.

    Just throwing that out there as food for thought…

  • bryan says:

    I can see it now, before you purchase this product in the very near future you will need to sign pages and pages and pages of release forms. Unfortunately in this country we have lost all common sense within our legal system, we are long overdue for a major overhaul, but it will never happen until this country implodes upon itself. Soon we’ll be able to commit first degree murder and blame society and everyone else for our poor decisions and get off free. Oh wait, sorry, my bad, we’re already waaaaaay past that…

    • Francis says:

      >>I can see it now, before you purchase this product in the very near future you will need to sign pages and pages and pages of release forms.

      This has already happened. They have added a new line saying they’re not responsible for you. This should have been around since Day 1.

  • sbrdude1 says:

    He chose to ride fast and beyond his ability and died as a result. No money should be awarded simply because Strava didn’t cause the crash but rather the bad judgment of the rider was reason. Figures the family would be from san fran sicko the land of sue happy idiots. I hope Strava counter sues this worthless family.

  • KD says:

    When I was 12 I would race my friends on my bike, part of our usual race included a downhill section. At the bottom of the hill was a small straight and eventually the street turned. During one of these races, as I raced downhill, I kept going faster and faster. At the bottom of teh hill my front tire gave began losing air, I could hear the familiar sound of the air whizzing out “pssssssss…” When I got to the turn I hadnt slowed down as much as I should, and as I tried to turn my flat front tire gave out, sending me hard to the ground. In the process I ended up breaking my arm. Now that I read this story I wonder if I could have sued my bastard of a friend for making me break my arm. To think I could have gotten myself a nice NES system

  • Matt_has_common_sense says:

    When I first saw this I thought, is Strava making bike parts now? I can see sueing over defective equipment that causes a crash, but this is totally crazy. I feel terrible for the family, but this happened because he rode beyond his ability. We’ve all done it. He just paid a higher price than the rest of us.

  • VTVolk says:

    This is no different that suing Timex for “encouraging cyclists to speed because their watches contain a stopwatch function.” What is this world coming to?

  • NobodyFromNowhere says:

    What makes no sense is that the times reported on this Strava site are entered by those who supposedly clocked those times, right? So, what’s to stop someone from fudging the facts just to look good online? It’s ridiculous that this guy felt compelled to go out and beat a time that may not have even been real.

    My condolences to his family.

  • Erinn Brickhouse says:

    Three issues 1/ rider responsibility – obvious to 99% of the commentators here. Step forward anyone who has not participated in a “stupid” act. Unfortunately Flint won’t be around to learn from this error. 2/ there was an accident with an automobile – isn’t there some liability legal case here? 3/ Strava may and I say may have some liability “encouraging” an illegal or risky pastime through their “product”
    Note the word “may” and appreciate that these legal action assist in clarifying issues and may improve safety as the matter is being discussed. No matter how absurd this may seem – an outcome will improve things – win, lose or draw.

  • Francis says:

    >> What makes no sense is that the times reported on this Strava site are entered by those who supposedly clocked those times, right? So, what’s to stop someone from fudging the facts just to look good online?

    Strava automatically times rides based on preset start and stop points on the map. These are automatically calculated when the .gpx file is uploaded. It is not perfect but very effective.

    Here is an example of with over 3000 riders clocked

  • joel says:

    I’m going to sue the guys family for suing Strava and causing this article to be published, which caused me to read it and lose time at work.

  • Cord says:

    This is the most ridiculous thing that I’ve ever heard. This is an indicator of how bad we’ve gotten as a society that we even allow such nonsense to take our space and time. NOBODY can make you ride harder. You decide to do things based on a stimulus from the outside. I think everyone here is in agreement that this is silly. Liability is so crazy these days that you can’t sell something at a Yard Sale without getting sued. Come on peeps. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be human!

  • Heather says:

    I agree it is a very sad death! Many cyclists die without Strava or even going remotely fast. Kudos to all of you who believe in personal responsibility!

    Think about all the people who are riding harder and faster, and getting healthier because of Strava, whether they are a top competitor or just beginning. How about that?! Half full or half empty?

  • Brian says:

    you see, that is point why lawsuit is baseless. He was 41, old enough to make his own decisions and chose to ride fast. You chose to not. Does not matter public roads or off roads. Gee, how many people died today driving in cars? where are all the lawsuits on that situation, suing car manufactures for having 160mph dashboard that makes people go faster ? Back to topic, website is not to blame, they can not monitor nor do they have any responsibility for watching. Some people play just to play and others play to win, it is thier choice not yours to make.

  • Mark Wynn says:

    I would opine that Strava bears no legal responsibility, but the “unsafe” flagging feature is prudent. The people suing are obviously Democrats who believe that we must be protected from ourselves.

  • Cory says:

    It’s his dirtbag family and dirtbag lawyers that are the problem. I would assume he wouldn’t approve. If I died in a similar situation and my family pulled this shit i’d rise from the grave and haunt their assess!!!

  • nick digger says:

    Speeding downhill is not the only way to die on a bike. One could just as easily crash & die on the flats, or have a heart attack on a steep climb. I hope the jury, if it goes to trial, isn’t packed with anti-competitive drones who give 1st Place trophies to every kid on their indoor Nerf soccer teams.

  • JD says:

    Writer is lame too: “But they are enabling downhill racing on dangerous road sections and mountain singletrack trails where there is two-way traffic.” Enabling racing? How exactly? Stupid statement and biased. I know this road. As many others have said, personal responsibility. It is pretty pathetic to derive your self-worth from your willingness to assume large risks on a downhill, which is essentially what the family suing is saying about him. Not doing his memory any favors IMHO.

    And to Mark Wynn, the people suing are obviously conservatives who believe that whoever has more money and lawyers is in the right.

  • Sam says:

    Road Cyclists tend to be risk takers (and not too bright) by nature. I’ve been bike commuting to work for over 10 years in California and I can’t count how many times I’ve seen road cyclists doing insanely stupid things, like running red lights or cutting out into traffic. While there are a lot of bad drivers out there I would say most Cyclists and Motorcyclists who get hit by cars get hit because of their own stupidity.

    The one thing all your problems have in common is you.

  • Yo Adrian says:

    It’s clearly the local government at fault for building such a steep road…

  • criscobike says:

    Should paper manufactures be sued because their product sometimes gets rolled up into various smoking products? The guy made a conscious choice and this time it ended badly. Not Strava’s fault. Imagine if a discussion online was allowed to be included in a court decision…now wouldn’t that be an interesting world?

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