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6 suitable for bicycling."34 In affirming a trial court's de- establish that the alleged negligence was the proximate nial of the county's motion for summary judgment, the or legal cause of the accident. court stated that "`[a] municipality [that] extends to its Thus, the second question is whether the defendant's citizens an invitation to enter and use recreational ar- negligence was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's eas owes to those accepting that invitation a duty of injuries. Usually the issue of proximate cause is a ques- reasonable and ordinary care against foreseeable dan- tion of fact for the jury.39 No liability will be imposed gers.'"35 upon a public entity unless it is alleged and proved that Although the law may vary from state to state re- its negligence was the proximate cause of the accident.40 garding when there is a duty to a bicyclist, a public en- "'Proximate cause' is that cause, act or omission which, tity may have a duty to bicyclists to maintain a path in in a natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by an good condition such as when it opens a park for their efficient intervening cause, produces the injury and use. However, certain governmental functions, particu- without which the result would not have occurred, the larly those involving the exercise of discretion, may not injury being the natural and probable consequence of impose a duty on the public entity to the bicyclist. As the wrongful act."41 seen, a public defendant may have no duty to a bicyclist Although a jury is not bound to accept opinion testi- to enforce a speed limit but may have a duty to keep a mony as conclusive, expert testimony may be essential 42 bikeway in good repair. in establishing causation. When reasonable minds Guidance could reach only one conclusion, the existence of proxi- A public entity has a duty of reasonable care to con- mate cause is a question of law decided by the trial struct and maintain its public improvements in a rea- judge. sonably safe condition and to provide adequate warning There may be more than one proximate cause of an to a motorist or bicyclist of a dangerous condition of accident.43 The evidence must show that the plaintiff's which the public entity has notice or should have had injury was a natural and probable consequence of con- notice. In general, a public entity has a duty to maintain ditions for which the public entity was responsible.44 A the surface of a bikeway in a safe condition and free of public entity's breach of its standard of care or its viola- defects or obstructions. Although not discussed in the tion of a safety standard has been held to have been the digest, other principles of tort liability may apply in a proximate cause of a vehicle accident.45 In other cases, a given case such as contributory or comparative negli- bicyclist's inattention or other negligence could be held gence because of a bicyclist's own negligent conduct or inattention. C. Whether a Public Entity's Alleged Negligence 39 Boyd v. Trent, 262 A.D. 2d 260, 261, 690 N.Y.S.2d 732, Was the Proximate Cause of the Plaintiff's Claim 733 (N.Y. App. 2d Dep't 1999) (stating that "it is well settled that the absence of a warning sign cannot be excluded as a A bicyclist may allege that an accident was caused proximate cause of an accident unless the driver's awareness of by the condition of the pavement, by inadequate warn- the road condition would have led to the same course of con- ing signs or signals, by shoulder conditions, or by a duct as had the sign been present" and that the court could not hazardous bridge. Regardless of the alleged cause of an rule as a matter of law that the defendant's "actions would accident, a plaintiff must prove causation in fact and have been the same had a speed reduction sign been present at 36 proximate cause. the approach to the curve") (citations omitted); Grappe v. State, First, the question of cause in fact may be tested by Dep't of Transp. & Dev., 462 So. 2d 1337, 1340 (La. App. 3d asking whether the injury would have occurred but for Cir. 1985) ("Causation is a question of fact as to which the trial the defendant's negligence.37 One question for the court court's determinations are entitled great weight and should not is whether the proof is sufficient. If an accident oc- be disturbed absent manifest error."), cert. denied, 466 So. 2d 1302 (La. 1985). curred on pavement that is alleged to have been defec- 40 tive, it must be shown that the defect was in fact the Ring v. State, 270 A.D. 2d 788, 789, 705 N.Y.S.2d 427, 428 (N.Y. App. 3d Dep't 2000) (citations omitted). cause of the accident and the plaintiff's injuries.38 Cau- 41 sation in fact is not the same as the plaintiff's burden to 65 C.J.S., Negligence 188, at 51920 (footnotes omitted). 42 Union Pac. R.R. Co. v. Sharp, 330 Ark. 174, 182, 952 S.W.2d 658, 662 (1997) (citations omitted). 34 Id. at 614, 776 N.Y.S.2d at 491 (noting that although the 43 Tex. Dep't of Transp. v. Olsen, 980 S.W.2d 890, 893 (Tex. county had "abandoned" the pathway, bicycle riding was per- App. 1998). mitted). 44 35 Larkins v. Hayes, 267 A.D. 2d 524, 525, 699 N.Y.S.2d 213, Id. (holding that the county was not entitled to govern- 214 (N.Y. 3d Dep't 1999) (citation omitted). Stahl v. Metro mental immunity because its operation of a public park is not a Dade County, 438 So. 2d 14 (1983) (child killed by motorist governmental function) (citations omitted). when child rode bicycle off poorly maintained bike path and 36 Estate of Day by Strosin v. Willis, 897 P.2d 78, 81 onto street). (Alaska 1995). 45 Nevins v. Ohio Dep't of Highways, 132 Ohio App. 3d 6, 23, 37 2 HARPER & JAMES, THE LAW OF TORTS 2d 20.2, at 91, 25, 724 N.E.2d 433, 443, 445 (Ohio App. 10th Dist. 1998) (re- hereinafter cited as "HARPER & JAMES." manding the case because the trial court failed to state sepa- 38 Id. at 8586; 4 SCHWEITZER & RASCH, CYCLOPEDIA OF rately the amounts of individual compensatory damages, fu- TRIAL PRACTICE 827, at 66 (2d ed.). neral and burial expenses, and survival claims as required).