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Bicyclist who hit parked city truck gets $50,000 settlement

June 20, 2011

A bicyclist who sued the city of Colorado Springs last year after he rear-ended a government-owned vehicle parked in the roadway has received a $50,000 settlement.

Greg Kopecky, 26, sued the city and Ronny Burr, a temporary city employee working in the Streets Division, over a June 15, 2010, accident on his bike.

Kopecky was traveling southbound on Centennial Boulevard "lawfully operating his bicycle in the designated bicycle lane" when he hit the back of a city vehicle that Burr had parked in the bicycle lane, the lawsuit states.

"Street signs located on Centennial Boulevard clearly indicated that parking on the bicycle lane was expressly prohibited," the lawsuit states.

(Did the city make the right decision by settling the lawsuit? Vote in poll.)

Burr, who was also traveling southbound on Centennial, pulled the vehicle over just north of Mule Deer Drive about 3:45 p.m. after he received a call from a dispatcher, which is “in accordance with established safety protocols,” according to city documents.

Burr, who drives around the city collecting dead animals and debris from the streets, put the vehicle in park and turned on all the warning lights on the truck, city documents state.

“Mr. Burr parked the vehicle against the right curb of Centennial, obstructing a bicycle lane but not protruding into the vehicular traffic lane,” city documents state. “In this area, Centennial is a wide, straight, flat road. Conditions at the time were clear and sunny and the road was dry. Traffic was light.”

After the dispatcher started to speak, Burr felt the vehicle shake. Burr got out and saw that Kopecky had slammed into the back of the truck. He ran back to the cab and asked the dispatcher to contact emergency personnel.

Burr told police that the bicyclist hit the truck two to three minutes after he had pulled over, said police Sgt. Darrin Abbink.

According to the incident report, Abbink said, the back of the truck had a yellow and black sign stating: This vehicle stops in traffic.

Police determined that the city truck was stopped at the right edge of the road when the accident occurred, documents state.

“The police further determined that the bicyclist, while maintaining his position within the bicycle lane, ‘rode straight into the back of the truck,’” documents state.

Burr was not cited.

Kopecky, a Springs resident, claimed “negligence” and “vicarious liability and dangerous condition of a public road against the city.”

Kopecky said Burr "negligently and carelessly failed to exercise reasonable care" to protect him and that the city vehicle "parked in the bicycle lane constituted a dangerous condition," the lawsuit states.

He sought unspecified damages for serious, grievous and permanent bodily injuries, emotional distress and anguish, and past, present and future pain and suffering, among other claims.

Kopecky suffered "severe traumatic injuries" in the accident, including a concussion, a skull fracture and numerous lacerations, abrasions and contusions, the lawsuit states.

The city admitted that the parked vehicle "obstructed the bicycle lane while it was stopped" but claimed that Kopecky's "own negligence caused or contributed" to the accident.

Kopecky "was comparitively negligent," the city said.

On May 10, Kopecky's attorney and the City Attorney's Office filed a joint order to dismiss the lawsuit rather than fight it out in court. The order was signed May 11, according to court records.

Kopecky could not be reached, and his Denver-based attorney, Frank Coppola, did not immediately return a call for comment.

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