Children under the age of eight are not allowed to use bike paths that are not separated from the roadway, even if they are riding with an adult. In the event of an accident, a violation of the parents’ duty of supervision may give rise to liability.
A father took his three children, aged six, eleven and fifteen, on a bicycle trip. All four were riding on a bicycle lane that was not separated from the roadway by a constructional element. When a car parked on the bike path blocked their path, the cyclists tried to swerve – with varying degrees of success.
Evasive maneuvers fail, six-year-old hits parked car
The father in front left the lane to avoid the car. The six-year-old daughter riding behind him tried to catch up with her father. But the six-year-old’s evasive maneuver failed. You the handlebars of the car of your bicycle an oncoming vehicle in the area of the right door. Material damage in the amount of 790 euros was caused.
The owner of the car demanded that the liability insurance of the father of the family cover the damage. the local court of dusseldorf upheld the claim of. It saw a violation of the father’s duty of supervision over his six-year-old daughter under §§ 832 abs. 1 S. 1, 249 ff BGB.
Was the six-year-old allowed to use the bike lane?
The father violated his duty of supervision by allowing his daughter to walk in front of him in contravention of § 2 abs. 5 S.1, 2 stvo and used the bicycle lane, which was only marked on the roadway but not structurally separated from the roadway.
under-eight-year-olds may only use bike paths that are structurally separated from the roadway
According to § 2 abs. 5 S.1, 2 stvo children under the age of eight have to drive on the sidewalk. You may only use a bicycle path if it is structurally separated from the road.
On the one hand, the purpose of the regulation is to prevent children from being put in danger. However, vehicles traveling next to such a bike lane also fell within the area of protection, because a typical consequence of an unsafe driving style is the contact of parallel vehicles and thus possible damages.
Violation of duty of care: father should have been cycling with child on sidewalk
The court pointed out that the question of the father’s liability did not depend on whether the father had been in control of the toleration of the use of the bicycle path by his daughter that he had further violated his duty of supervision by his specific driving style. Therefore, it does not matter whether the father should have behaved differently, for example, whether he should have driven behind his daughter or whether he should have waited before avoiding the car parked on the bicycle path in order to reduce the distance between himself and his daughter.
The father could also not be held liable under § 832 para. 1 S 2 BGB, because the accident would not have happened in the same way if he had observed his duty of supervision and ensured that his daughter was riding on the footpath.
It was also reasonable for the father to comply with his duty of supervision, because he would have been liable even under § 2 abs. 5 S.3 stvo had been entitled to use the sidewalk to supervise his daughter.
The fact that his sons would then have had to use the cycle path independently without him is not unreasonable, because they are 11 and 15 years old and are capable of riding a bicycle without the supervision and advance notice of a parent.