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Nanny State: US Cities Are Actually Banning Sledding

As winter weather is hitting large swaths of the U.S., some cities are making children’s’ lives a little less fun by limiting or even banning sledding in public parks.

The latest city to do so is Dubuque Iowa, which is banning sledding in all but two of the city’s 50 public parks. But the Dubuque City Council isn’t simply looking to ban fun, it’s a move to protect themselves from lawsuits over sledding injuries.

In fact, some U.S. cities have suffered major losses in sledding-related legal battles. In one lawsuit a five-year-old girl was awarded $2 million in a judgement against Omaha, Nebraska after she was paralyzed in a sledding accident. A Sioux Falls, Iowa man won a $2.75 million judgement after he sled into a sign and injured his back.

“We have all kinds of parks that have hills on them,” Marie Ware, Dubuque’s leisure services manager, told the Associated Press. “We can’t manage the risk at all of those places.”

But it’s not that easy stopping residents from sledding in public parks. Some cities, however, are going to great lengths to stop people from enjoying winter. The AP notes that Omaha “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.”

Last year, the town of Paxton, Illinois went so far as to remove a sledding hill from Coady Park– a community favorite sledding spot.

“The insurance would have skyrocketed if someone was hurt,” Paxton board member Kay McCabe told the Paxton Gazette.

Even Canadians are feeling the wrath of cities who want to protect themselves from sledding lawsuits. For the past 15 years the town of Hamilton, Ontario has restricted sledding and imposed a $5,000 fine on violators.

Some residents have become so angered they’ve started a Change.org petition in opposition to the ban. As of Jan. 6, it garnered 1,011 supporters.

Research by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that more than 20,000 children a year were treated in hospital emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries between 1997 and 2007.

“We live in a lawsuit-happy society,” sledding advocate Steve King told the AP, “and cities are just being protective by banning sledding in areas that pose a risk for injury or death.”

What a bummer.

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