Heyl Royster

 

Illinois Supreme Court Holds Absolute Immunity Not Applicable to Bike Path

By: Anne Mergen, amergen@heylroyster.com

Our last Governmental Newsletter contained an article that explained the confusion in Illinois law on what constitutes a “Riding Trail.” It explained that this definition is important because Section 3-107(b) of the Illinois Tort Immunity Act grants total immunity to public entities for incidents that occur on “riding trails.” With more local governments creating paved bicycle and pedestrian trails, the question became: Are these trails considered “riding trails"?

Last week, in the case of Corbett v. The County of Lake, the Illinois Supreme Court weighed in. The court rejected the idea that a riding trail is defined as only a forest path or a mountain pass. In a state with no mountains, the court determined that this definition was unworkable and arbitrary. The court concluded that under the Act, absolute immunity for “trails” applied only to rustic trails in their natural environment and did not include paved or otherwise finished trails, such as those designated for on-road bicycles. In other words, shared-use bike paths intended for bicycles, pedestrians, and in-line skaters are not considered trails under the Act.