Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Proposed mountain-biking tourism measure fails

Touted as a potential shot in the arm for the mountain-biking tourism industry, a proposed measure that sought to mirror the ski industry when it comes to liability was defeated today in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The measure, Senate Bill 36, by the GOP’s Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, an avid biker, would have narrowed the scope of civil lawsuits that can be filed by riders against mountain-biking area operators, mountain bicycling-biking instructors, bicycle providers, and mountain-biking event organizers.

Fear of lawsuits, says Brophy, may be holding back the development of more trails for mountain-bike enthusiasts. The ski industry enjoys a limited-liability protection that shields against claims of negligence from skiers who engage in risky behavior while on privately owned property. Government-owned property enjoys the same protection against liability.

“This is the proper way to promote mountain-bike riding in Colorado,” said Brophy. “It has worked well for the ski industry, and it ought to be extended to the mountain-bike industry as well. We would see more trails and growth of the sport in the state, creating more tourism opportunities.”

The Trial Lawyers Association came speaking in opposition to the measure, which was ultimately defeated on a party-line vote with Republicans in favor of extending limited liability to the mountain bike industry and Democratic committee members opposed to the extension.

Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, an attorney, concurred with the trial lawyers that mountain bikers should be afforded full access to the courts if an event merited a lawsuit. Carroll said that if the industry was given limited liability, bikers actually may be discouraged from coming to Colorado.

“If we sent the message that people can be negligent without consequence….how do we know that this doesn’t send the opposite message?” said Carroll.

Via - Colorado News Agency

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