Supreme Court Ruling Threatens Bike Path Legitimacy

Many of our nation’s nature trails and bicycle pathways were carved out of abandoned land allotted to railroad companies as a part of the federal Rails to Trails program. Since 1983, over 1,400 hiking and bicycle trails have been created through the program. According to, a Wyoming resident sued the federal government over their right to convert land previously dedicated to railway purposes into trails.

The plaintiffs, Marvin Brandt Revocable Trust, received a portion of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forrest, because they produced railway ties in a sawmill on the property. “We traded for the land with a right-of-way on it for railroad uses,” said the plaintiff. “They want to bring a train through here, that’s fine. We never expected and we never agreed to a bicycle trail.”

The Supreme Court voted in favor of the plaintiff eight to one. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented on the grounds that American taxpayers will shoulder the burden of subsequent lawsuits concerning pathways dedicated as a result of Rails to Trails.

The decision “undermines the legality of thousands of miles of former rights-of-way that the public now enjoys as means of transportation and recreation,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Most importantly, it threatens the safety of bicyclists who may soon have significantly less right-of-way pathways at their disposal.

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If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, the Metier Law Firm, LLC can help. Our bicycle accident attorneys have been defending the rights of injured cyclists for years in Wyoming and Colorado. For more information, contact us. To schedule a free consultation with one of our bicycle accident lawyers, call us today at (866) 377-3800.

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