Strava Sued Over Cycling Death
On June 19, 2010, William “Kim” Flint struck a car and was killed while cycling more than 40 mph down a hill in Berkeley, CA. Flint had been going for a fastest-time title on popular cycling website Strava—which allows you to “track all your runs and rides, set personal records and beat your friends’ times,” according to the company’s website—when he died.
Now, two years after the accident, Flint’s family is suing Strava for negligence, claiming that the company encouraged him to speed irresponsibly. Strava allows cyclists to upload their GPS-tracked rides to the website, where they can compare their training and performance over particular segments to their peers. Some segments, particularly uphills, downhills and landmarks like bridges, are hotly contested.
“They assume no responsibility. They don’t put cones out. They don’t have anybody monitor and see whether a course, or a specific segment, is dangerous,” Susan Kang, the Flint family’s attorney, told ABC. “I strongly believe, and Mr. Flint’s family strongly believes, that it is only a matter of time before somebody else dies,” Kang said.
Strava users can, in fact, flag and remove any segments on trails or roads they deem too dangerous for cycling or running. And Strava’s terms and conditions explicitly—and in all caps—excuse the site from being liable for any injuries incurred as a result of physical activity involving Strava.
Some of Flint’s friends thought his fixation with Strava—he was trying to best someone who had beaten by four seconds his own previous record on a particular stretch of road—led to his death. But can Strava really be sued for an accident resulting from Flint’s competitiveness? Well, yes. Will it hold up in court? That's for a judge to decide.
“The death of Kim Flint was a tragic accident,” said Strava spokesman Mark Riedy, “and we expressed our sincere condolences when it occurred in 2010. Based on the facts involved in the accident and the law, there is no merit to this lawsuit.”
Despite the lawsuit, Strava, winner of VeloNews’ 2011 Technical Innovation of the Year award, appears, if anything, to be picking up speed.