Case study: bike path signage causes slip (or did it?)

Risk Matters - Spring 2022

The incident

The claimant, a cyclist, was riding his bike along a shared bike/footpath. He allegedly slipped on the path’s ‘slow down’ warning signage, injuring his ankle and knee. In his claim, the cyclist alleged that the signage was slippery and had a design flaw.


There had previously been a number of incidents on this section of the shared path, with cyclists crashing in the area due to speed.

The City assessed the situation and responded by installing ‘slow down’ signage which was painted onto the path. In developing the signage, the City consulted with subject matter experts, Main Roads Western Australia (MRWA) to make sure that the signage was appropriate and met required standards.

Prior to the claim incident, local government staff had visited the site and conducted slip tests, by foot and by cycling over the signage. The inspection concluded that the area was safe, up to standard and not slippery in normal conditions.

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Where we’ve been

Over 120 people attended the CEO Breakfast or Local Government Risk Forum on Tuesday 6 September 2022, at Crown Perth.
Representatives from across the state — from Port Hedland to Esperance and everywhere in between joined together to network and explore current risk issues for the sector.

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The claim

LGIS was advised of the claim and investigated the matter to find out whether the City was liable. Key findings of our investigation were:

  • That by consulting with subject matter experts, MRWA, the City had exercised reasonable care to make sure that the signage was designed and installed to relevant guidelines and standards.
  • The City had conducted an inspection of the site prior to the claimant’s accident due to previous reports of cycle crashes in the area. None of these incidents were related to slippery signage or materials.
  • They had inspected the signage in question after the claim and found the signage had some wear due to heavy usage. It should be noted that after an incident or claim occurs, the member has a duty to investigate and review the particular area and causation of the incident. If established that the asset can be modified or improved to the benefit of the community, such improvements/modifications should be undertaken in accordance with resourcing and budgetary constraints. Doing so is not an indicator of acceptance/admission of liability by the member.
  • It was found that the claimant’s bike tires had extreme wear to the point that the bike was not roadworthy. This was highly likely to be the main contributing factor causing the claimant to lose traction and fall from the bike.
  • It is reasonable to expect that surfaces become wet in outdoor environments, pedestrians and cyclists alike have their own duty to safely navigate outdoor environments and take care of their own safety.

The outcome

Based on the LGIS investigation, it was established that the signage was up to standard; it had no design or application issues. The City had acted reasonably to meet their duty of care at all steps and therefore, the City was not liable for the claimant’s damages. The claim was successfully denied on behalf of the member.

Lessons from this case

The defence in this case was strong because:

  • The City had consulted with subject matter experts and installed signage that met expected standards.
  • There was documentation of site inspections.
  • Where there had been previous incidents at the site, the City had responded reasonably to exercise their duty of care.

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