Pennsylvania’s Statutory Protections for Trails
Reference: Liability and Rail-Trails in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Rails to Trails Act ( Pennsylvania Statute 32 P.S. § 5611 Rails To Trails Act1990 P.L. 748, No. 188, effective March 18, 1991) also limits liability for recreational trail use in a similar manner to Pennsylvania’s RUS. Liability is limited for the owner or lessee who permits trail use by the public under the Rails to Trails Act. Like the RULWA, the act applies to both private and public owners, and liability is not limited if there are any fees charged in connection with trail use or for "willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity."
Under (a) General rule, subsection (d), an owner or lessee who provides the public with land for use as a trail under this act or who owns land adjoining any trail developed under this act owes no duty of care to keep the land safe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes, or to give any warning to persons entering or going on that trail land of a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity thereon.
Under the act, Owner is, "Any person, public agency or corporation owning an interest in land utilized for recreational trail purposes pursuant to this act shall be treated as an "owner" for purposes of the act of February 2, 1966 (1965 P.L. 1860, No. 586), entitled "An act encouraging landowners to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting liability in connection therewith, and repealing certain acts."
Trails adopt strategies to minimize the possibility of injuries on the trail, and some of these strategies are:
• design the trail for safety;
• use prominent signage to warn users of potentially dangerous areas;
• regularly inspect the trail and correct any unsafe conditions;
• prominently post hours of operation and other rules and regulations, along with emergency contact information.
Trail users are key to these strategies, as they may be the first person to recognize a problem or arrive at a new hazard. They can report the need to repair, improve or restrict the trail until corrections can be made. The trail is a community project that asks participation from all to insure every one's enjoyment and safety.
A bicycle lane in Canberra, Australia.
These lanes are painted green where motorists and cyclists are more likely to experience conflicts, such as where traffic must cross the cycle lanes to turn left.