Woman Backed for Refusing To Let Bike Marathon Cut Through Property

A woman is being backed for balking at allowing participants in a bike marathon to cut through her property, even though they had taken that route for six years.

In the viral post, u/South_Ad_6014 shared her story to the popular Reddit forum r/AmITheA**hole, asking denizens of the subreddit if she was wrong for demanding the change in her post, "AITA for not letting the marathon cyclists cut through my land; as they have been doing for years?" She earned over 5,700 upvotes and nearly 1,200 comments for her trouble.

The original poster (OP) explains that four months ago, she and her husband bought their home. The home is on 15 acres of land, and about four acres away from the house, she estimates, is a field, surrounded by a fence and two gates.

Last week, she received a notice by mail asking her to remember to leave the gates open for this year's bike marathon. For the past six years, the cyclists were allowed to cut through the field to get back on the main road. However, no one told the new owners about the bike marathon at all—let alone this expectation—when they bought the property.

She writes that they don't want to allow this because of the liability issues if someone is injured, but also that they "don't want a bunch of cyclists" on their property.

In a comment, she also clarified that it's not a point of access issue. The main road is accessible without cutting through her property, it's simply a shortcut.

"So I go to the town hall and tell them that our property was not going to be used as a short cut," u/South_Ad_6014 wrote. "It was argued that this is how things have been for 6 years and that it would take far too much time to map out a different route on such short notice. I told them it's not my problem."

Though she believes that cyclists were told they couldn't use the shortcut anymore, she says a number still showed up and were mad that the gate was closed.

"I was outside doing gardening when one of the cyclists started berating me for not having it open; stating that I was a 'selfish karen' and stated 'Look at me, afraid of bikes, let me be a c**t about it,'" she wrote, asking the community if she had indeed committed a faux pas.

bike marathon trespassing field gates aita reddit
A woman is being supported for her decision to not allow a bike marathon to cut through her property, even though the previous owner allowed it. Carles Iturbe Ferre/Getty

While the details vary depending on the specific state one is in, u/South_Ad_6014 is correct that if someone were to injure themselves on her property, she would be liable. In a 2015 column for FindLaw.com, lawyer Christopher Coble explains when a homeowner is liable if someone is hurt on their land.

Coble lays out three general categories of people who would be on someone's property: "invitees," those who are invited for a specific purpose—like a handyman, "licensees," or people invited to the property for no specific reason—like a friend and "trespassers"—like a burglar. While someone is definitely liable if an invitee or licensee hurts themselves while on the property, the homeowner usually doesn't have to worry about a hurt trespasser.

"A burglar cannot sue for tripping on a toy car or being hit by a falling television," Coble writes.

However, even with trespassers, there are exceptions. Legally, one can't set booby traps, and it's not legal to use deadly force to defend property—for example, it's illegal to kill a burglar for trying to steal a TV if they're not threatening to hurt or kill anyone.

But when it comes to what Coble calls the "known trespasser," or someone the homeowner knows is on the property without being asked, the homeowner is liable. In this case, even though u/South_Ad_6014 didn't want the cyclists on her property, if she still allowed them to cut through, she'd be responsible for warning the cyclists of any potential dangers, and she'd be on the hook for any injury sustained by them.

Reddit largely agreed with her that she has the right to bar the cyclists from taking a shortcut on her land.

"Yup. It's your property, not the city's," u/Veissella wrote in the top-rated comment with over 7,200 upvotes. "Edit: [Not the A**hole]. Forgot, given how not-your-problem this is."

"And the a**hole cyclists made sure to burn that bridge to the ground ensuring that Op will never change their mind," u/nolan358 added.

"If it were me, I wouldn't have minded at all except for the lawsuit liability. I'm not taking that risk, sorry. The last thing I'd need is for someone to get hurt and then decide to sue me - that's such a huge, huge risk to take on for a bunch of total strangers. I wouldn't do it. People have to cover their asses when it comes to this s**t, even if it makes the neighbours crabby. It's way too much of a gamble; your life could be financially tanked if somebody decided to sue you over an injury," u/boudicas_shield wrote.

"[Not the A**hole]. It's only been 6 years!" u/Sirix_8472 wrote. "They can very easily use the route they did 6 years ago which is still in very recent living memory. It's not like this is 80 years worth of racing and history. They had to remap it 6 years ago to use this route."

"[Not the A**hole]. Make sure you have No Trespassing signs up. You're right, not your problem. And you can go to the town hall and say that even if you had been considering it for the future, the insults and abuse by the bikers have convinced you to never allow it as long as you live there. So they better get their maps updated," u/CatJudgement wrote.

Newsweek reached out to u/South_Ad_6014 for comment.