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Parents sue cycling website for complicity in son’s death

Kim Flint: died riding his bike in Tilden Park in June 2010

The parents of a man who was killed while riding his bicycle in Tilden Park in 2010 is suing Strava, the social media cycling organization they believe contributed to his death.

William and Kathleen Flint filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Strava in San Francisco Superior Court on Monday June 18 for “encouraging dangerous behavior.”

William Flint II, known as Kim, died June 19, 2010 around 2:00 pm when he hit a car while riding his bicycle down South Park Drive in Tilden Park. Flint, 40, had been going around a curve when his bicycle drifted into the other lane, according to East Bay Regional Park police.

Flint may have been trying to recapture a speed record that he had set – and then lost – on the Strava social media site. Strava allows cyclists to clock their times and speeds using GPS and upload them to a website. Cyclists can then compare their performance with that of other cyclists. Those who go the fastest can win “KOM” or “King of the Mountain” titles.


Kim Flint had raced down South Park Road on June 6, 2010 in 2 minutes and 7 seconds, reaching a top speed of 49.3 miles per hour, according to his Twitter posts. The speed limit on South Park Drive, which is a steep grade, is 30 miles per hour.

“49.3 mph, on a bike. How I find religion on Sunday morning,” wrote Flint on June 6.

“Set new personal records – Centennial, 3 Bears, some others, even a KOM (King of the Mountain) on south gate descent!” he added a few hours later.

But on Tuesday June 15, another cyclist, Pan Thomakas, bested Kim’s record by 4 seconds. That new time may have prompted Kim to try to go even faster, according to comments on bicycle chat rooms.

Kim Flint’s GPS recording of his 49.3 mph descent on South Park Drive in Tilden Park

Flint’s parents filed the lawsuit just a day before the statute of limitations would have run out, according to their attorney, Susan Y. Yang. They made the decision to do so after reading reports of another bicycle fatality involving Strava, she said.


On March 29, a cyclist named Chris Bucchere was riding down Castro Street in San Francisco at about 35 miles per hour when he hit 71-year old Sutchi Hui crossing Market Street. Hui died four days later. Bucchere later wrote about the accident on his Strava account. The San Francisco District Attorney has filed vehicular manslaughter charges against Bucchere.

Yang said Flint’s parents believe their son was partly responsible for his death, but that Strava’s culture was also a contributing factor. Trumpeting King of the Mountain challenges encourages risky behavior, often in areas crowded with pedestrians, she said.

“It makes no sense to reward someone “King of the Mountain” for a dangerous activity such as that, which puts the public in harm’s way,” said Yang.

The Flints are suing because they don’t want anyone else to die, she said.

Strava has denied culpability in Flint’s death, although it did remove King of the Mountain designations on South Park Drive in 2010 in response to Flint’s death, and noted that the descent was dangerous.


“The death of Kim Flint was a tragic accident, and we expressed our sincere condolences when it occurred in 2010,” Mark Riedy, a spokesman for Strava said in an email. “Based on the facts involved in the accident and the law, there is no merit to this lawsuit. We again express our condolences to the Flint family, but we will defend the company vigorously through the legal process ahead.”

Flint, who was born in Berkeley but who grew up Danville, got a joint engineering and computer science degree from UC Berkeley. He worked at NVIDIA, a visual computing company based in Santa Clara, and had assisted Sony in the development of the PlayStation. Flint lived in Oakland with his girlfriend.

He was an avid cyclist, going out on long rides almost every weekend. He frequently rode in Tilden Park, and had done a long loop in Niles Canyon in Fremont the week before his death. His friends said he was not a reckless person.

Read the Flint’s wrongful death lawsuit.

UPDATE 6/21/12:

After the lawsuit was filed, Stava sent out new terms of service to all its members via email. The most significant changes appear to be in its Disclaimer section, where Strava added information stating that all users agree that there are significant associated with cycling and that Stava is not responsible for what happens. 9hat tip: Paul Rauber0

“YOU EXPRESSLY AGREE THAT YOUR ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES, WHICH GENERATE THE CONTENT YOU POST OR SEEK TO POST ON THE SITE (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO CYCLING) CARRY CERTAIN INHERENT AND SIGNIFICANT RISKS OF PROPERTY DAMAGE, BODILY INJURY OR DEATH AND THAT YOU VOLUNTARILY ASSUME ALL KNOWN AND UNKNOWN RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THESE ACTIVITIES EVEN IF CAUSED IN WHOLE OR PART BY THE ACTION, INACTION OR NEGLIGENCE OF STRAVA OR BY THE ACTION, INACTION OR NEGLIGENCE OF OTHERS. YOU ALSO EXPRESSLY AGREE THAT STRAVA DOES NOT ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE INSPECTION, SUPERVISION, PREPARATION,OR CONDUCT OF ANY RACE, CONTEST, GROUP RIDE OR EVENT THAT UTILIZES STRAVA’S SITE.
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88 YOU EXPRESSLY AGREE TO RELEASE STRAVA, ITS SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, OFFICERS, AGENTS, REPRESENTATIVES, EMPLOYEES, PARTNERS AND LICENSORS (THE “RELEASED PARTIES”) FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY CONNECTED WITH YOUR ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES, AND PROMISE NOT TO SUE THE RELEASED PARTIES FOR ANY CLAIMS, ACTIONS, INJURIES, DAMAGES, OR LOSSES ASSOCIATED WITH YOUR ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES. YOU ALSO AGREE THAT IN NO EVENT SHALL THE RELEASED PARTIES BE LIABLE TO YOU OR ANY THIRD PARTY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, PUNITIVE, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH (a) YOUR USE OR MISUSE OF THE SITE, (b) YOUR USE OR MISUSE OF EQUIPMENT OR PROGRAMS CREATED OR LICENSED BY STRAVA WHILE ENGAGED IN ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES, (c) YOUR DEALINGS WITH THIRD PARTY SERVICE PROVIDERS OR ADVERTISERS AVAILABLE THROUGH THE SITE, (d) ANY DELAY OR INABILITY TO
USE THE SITE EXPERIENCED BY YOU, (e) ANY INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES OR CONTENT OBTAINED THROUGH THE SITE, WHETHER BASED ON CONTRACT, TORT, STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHERWISE, EVEN IF STRAVA HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF DAMAGES. BECAUSE SOME STATES/JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY FOR CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, THE ABOVE LIMITATION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.
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Related:
Did attempt to set speed record cause cyclist’s death?
[06.20.10]
Did bicycle web site contribute to cyclist’s death? [07.05.10]