An Evolution In Cycling Law

Kanata CA personal injury, family, and real estate law firm


Our clients sometimes ask about how the law evolves over time. As summer approaches,
a recent case demonstrates how new legal cases may affect a pastime enjoyed by many in
the Ottawa area: cycling.

The case of Kempf v. Nguyen was recently heard at the Ontario Court of Appeal. Unfortunately, the lawsuit was the result of a collision between two bikes on the Toronto Don Valley Parkway during a charity bike ride. The ride was not competitive but many cyclists rode as fast as they could in excellent conditions. The allegations in this case were that in one of the leading groups of cyclists one rider attempted to pass another. At the same time the rider being passed made a sudden movement to the right which caused a collision. The rider making the sudden movement was sued for negligence.

Expert evidence was presented at the trial which suggested that rules existed for group cycling and they included a requirement not to make any sudden movements. Based on these rules the trial judge determined the rider was negligent for making a sudden movement to the right and was therefore liable for the damages caused by the collision. Although all riders had signed waivers preventing them from suing the race organizers, the judge found that this did not stop cyclists from suing other cyclists.

The trial verdict was appealed and the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial on the basis that the case should have been heard by a jury. In its decision the Court of Appeal suggested that a jury might find the “rules” of cycling in a charity ride to be less significant than the trial judge.

The final result of this case has yet to be determined but the rules of group cycling have now been recognized in the Ontario Courts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This publication is the 28th installment of our firm’s Legal Matters series, which answers a reader’s question every week.  If you have a general legal question that you would like to have addressed please send it via email to