On 3 August 2014, Edward O’Riodan was riding his mountain bike in an area called Clonmoney South, a local beauty spot popular with walkers and cyclists. As he crossed a cattle grid, he became unsteady and fell off his bicycle.

He sustained permanent damage to his left ankle and decided to intimate a claim for damages against the local council.

Mr O’Riodan stated that the concrete surrounding the cattle grid had created a sudden drop of around 25mm onto the metal bars of the grid and it was this that had caused him to lose control of his bicycle as he crossed the cattle grid.

Clare County Council disputed Mr O’Riodan’s claim stating that the concrete surrounding the cattle grid did not pose a danger to road users. They also stated that if he had believed the cattle grid to be unsafe to cross on his bicycle, then he should have dismounted and walked across.

The case proceeded to court where Mr Justice David Barniville concluded that the concrete surrounding the cattle grid was indeed a hazard and he found Clare County Council liable for the condition of the cattle grid.

Mr O’Riodan was found to have contributed to the incident by 25% and so his award for damages was reduced by this amount.

Mr Justice David Barniville stated, “While in my view the cause of the accident was the sudden and unexpected drop encountered as he cycled over the cattle grid, I accept that it would have been open for Mr O’Riodan to dismount and walk around the cattle grid and if he had cycled over the middle or over the right side of the cattle grid, he would not have had to negotiate the sudden drop.”

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