Sonoma Bicycle-Pedestrian Suit Settled for $1.4 million

The victim in a 2009 accident in which she suffered serious injury when struck by a bicycle riding on the sidewalk will receive $250,000 from the City of Sonoma in the settlement due to ordinance allowing bicycles on sidewalks.

As reported this morning in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the City of Sonoma must contribute $250,000 as part of a settlement between Sonoma artist Wendy Mitchell, then 72, and the local teen who hit her with a bicycle in a November, 2009 accident.

The City's role as co-defendant was due to its unusual ordinance that allows bicycles to ride on sidewalks with few restrictions, a latitude given cyclists in few if any other area municipalities.

The city of Sonoma prohibits bicycles from being operated on sidewalks at such speeds or in such manner “as evidences willful, wanton or reckless disregard of the safety of other pedestrians in the vicinity.”

[Rick McGreevy, the San Francisco attorney who represented the plaintiff] said he surveyed 35 Northern California cities to compare their ordinances with Sonoma's. He said all of the cities with the exception of Sonoma ban bicycle riding on sidewalks in commercial districts or outright, or require cyclists to yield to pedestrians.

The total settlement was for $1.4 million, with the rest of the money coming from the juvenile's family insurance policy and the owner of , the shop on Broadway in front of which the accident took place.

Mayor Joanne Sanders is a quoted as saying she opposes banning bikes from being ridden on sidewalks, but is open to the City Council reviewing the ordinance.

The next is Monday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m.

To read the complete story, follow this link.


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