Will this Supreme Court Ruling Result in the Loss of Bike Paths?

The Supreme Court decided eight-to-one in favor of the plaintiffs in the Wyoming case, Marvin Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States. The plaintiffs sued the federal government over the addition of bike pathways that ran through their property. However, the federal government granted the Brandt family the land which was previously a part of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest because they produced railroad ties in their sawmill.

In the mid-20th century, many American families and businesses working in the railway or auxiliary industries received land grants on the condition that trains would have the right-of-way on the land.  With time, most of the railway land grants were abandoned with the decline of the railway industry, so in 1983 the federal government started converting the abandoned land into hiking and biking trails through the Rails to Trails program.

The Brandt family sued over the federal government’s right to repurpose their land from a train right-of-way to a bicycle right-of-way. “We traded for the land with a right of way on it for railroad uses,” said the plaintiff. “They want to bring a train through here, that’s fine. We never expected and we never agreed to a bicycle trail.” Justice Stephen Breyer, who supported the Brandt family, was concerned that the U.S. lacks a database of all the railroad land being converted to bike paths. “For all I know, there is some right-of-way that goes through people’s houses,” said Justice Breyer.

The ruling carries profound implications for thousands of bike paths across the nation. The only dissenter, Justice Sonya Sotomayor, said: “The court undermines the legality of thousands of miles of former rights of way that the public now enjoys as means of transportation and recreation.” The federal government may now be sued by a slew of other landowners with bicycle right-of-ways on their land, which will cost the tax-payer millions of dollars.

San Diego Injury Attorneys That Handle Bicycle Accident Cases

Most importantly, the loss of bike right-of-way pathways is a serious security risk to cyclists. The ruling will force more cyclists on the streets where they must share the road with potentially negligent motorists. If your or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident caused by a careless motorist, contact us and we can help. Attorney Joshua Bonnici is an experienced cyclist and has an intimate knowledge of the hazards of the road. Our injury attorneys will recover the full compensation that you deserve for your injuries. For more information, call our firm today at (858) 261-5454.

[Did You Know: March 30th will be CicloSDias, a day of car-free roads for safe walking and biking from Pacific Beach to La Jolla.]

Bonnici Law Group, APC—San Diego bicycle accident lawyer

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