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.
- Bicyclist killed in Tilden Park crash by SFGate, June 21, 2010
- Did Bicycle Website Contribute to Cyclist’s Death? by Berkeleyside, July 5, 2010
- Crash at Tilden Park discussion on mtbr.com – June 21, 2010
- William Flint’s profile and ride log on Strava
- William Flint’s KOM on the South Park Drive Descent a week prior to the accident on Strava
- The South Park Drive Descent – Strava Segment which is now marked as hazardous so no leaderboard is displayed