$32K lawsuit payout for scooter crash on bad concrete: A quick look at Bloomington’s plan for sidewalk repair

In October of 2018, just a month after shared-use electric scooters arrived in Bloomington, a downtown worker was scooting home late at night, when he crashed as he was cruising downhill on a North College Avenue sidewalk.

The crash, which broke a bone in the scooter rider’s hand, occurred along the sidewalk on the west side of College, between 15th and 17th streets.

The scooter rider filed a lawsuit against the city of Bloomington and eventually against the adjoining property owner as well. The legal complaint contended that the crash was caused by the bad condition of the sidewalk.

Bloomington answered the complaint with a number of defenses, among them that the city “did not have prior notice of, nor opportunity to correct” the condition of the sidewalk that was alleged to have caused the scooter crash.

According to court documents, in late May of this year, a mediated settlement was reached, which resulted in a payment of $11,000 by Bloomington and $21,000 by the adjoining property owner.

If a sidewalk is bad enough to cause an accident, how is it supposed to get repaired? And what is the general condition of Bloomington sidewalks? Does Bloomington have a systematic approach to putting public sidewalks in good repair? Continue reading “$32K lawsuit payout for scooter crash on bad concrete: A quick look at Bloomington’s plan for sidewalk repair”

Bloomington strengthens local law keeping pedestrian ways open near construction sites

This April 2020 aerial image of the construction project at 14th Street and College Avenue is from the county’s Pictometry module of Monroe County’s online property records. It’s where resident Greg Alexander was flipped off by a skid steer operator operating in the walkaround earlier this year.

At its regular meeting last Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council beefed up its ordinance that applies to the way contractors can use the public right of way, like sidewalks, when they’re working on construction projects.

Highlights of the revised ordinance, which the council approved on a unanimous vote, include conditions that a walkaround is supposed to meet, if it is unavoidable that the sidewalk is blocked because of construction activities.

Under the old code requirement on walkarounds, there was no mention that the walkaround should be on the same side of the street as the blocked route, or protected by concrete or water-filled barricades, or that Indiana’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (IMUTCD) guidelines had be followed, including advance warning signs.

A new section of the code approved by the city council imposes a regimen of enforcement measures. They include the explicit authorization of the city’s traffic engineer to use legal proceedings to revoke or withhold approvals and certificates relevant to the site, and to issue a stop work order, among other measures.

The penalties section of the new ordinance includes a fine of up to $2,500 for a first violation, and up to $7,500 for each violation after the first one. Continue reading “Bloomington strengthens local law keeping pedestrian ways open near construction sites”