With much of the U.S. bracing for snow and arctic temperatures this week, Dubuque, Iowa, is becoming the latest in a string of U.S. cities to ban or sharply limit sledding in public parks. The reason? Liability. The Dubuque City Council points to some large court losses in the past 10 years, like the 5-year-old girl who won a $2 million judgment against Omaha, Nebraska, after a paralyzing sledding accident, or the man in Sioux City, Iowa, who got $2.75 million from the city after injuring his spine by sledding into a sign.
Some cities are only banning sledding on certain hills, or posting signs warning people that they sled at their own risk. But banning sledding entirely offers greater legal protection, The Associated Press says. Not that enforcing bans is easy: Omaha, for example, now pads signposts and puts hay bales around trees to protect sledders from themselves, after people routinely ignored a ban on a popular sledding hill.
Municipal sledding prohibitions are not popular, for obvious reasons. But sledding advocates like Steve King say they are understandable. "We live in a lawsuit-happy society," he tells AP, "and cities are just being protective by banning sledding in areas that pose a risk for injury or death." Sorry, kids.