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"Arrogant" cyclists blamed as dog needs leg amputated after shared-use path collision — how can safety be improved for everyone?

The incident on the outskirts of Bangor has prompted an all-too-familiar 'us vs them' debate in the local press, with some blaming speeding cyclists while others demand dog walkers control their pets...

Shared-use paths are back in the spotlight again after an incident near Bangor in North Wales left a dog needing a leg amputated following a collision involving a cyclist.

The Daily Post reports Buddy the 11-year-old springer spaniel lost a leg after being struck by a cyclist in Gwynedd, suffering a badly crushed ankle while being walked off-lead on the Ogwen Trail, which is part of the National Cycle Network's Route 82, and described as a "spectacular traffic-free" route by Sustrans.

Bob Hutchinson's dog was hit by a cyclist who "zoomed past" as he walked three other dogs with two friends.

Bangor dog needs leg amputating after shared-use path collision (screenshot Daily Post video)

"We had no idea he was coming. When he hit Buddy, the dog yelped loudly," the 74-year-old recalled.

"The cyclist dismounted and there was an altercation – he claimed he’d rung his bell, but none of us heard it."

Despite being able to limp home, two days later the much-loved pet was in visible pain and unable to put weight on the damaged leg.

An x-ray showed a lower leg fracture and gave Bob the uncomfortable decision of deciding between having Buddy put down, operated on, or the leg removed.

"I was worried about long-term problems and I didn’t want him to suffer, so I went for amputation. When the limb was removed, the vet said the ankle joint was so badly shattered, an operation wouldn’t have succeeded anyway," the local resident said.

Questioning the "arrogant" attitude of some cyclists, Mr Hutchinson claimed using the path, which was tarmacked 20 years ago, has "become a frightening experience".

"A majority of cyclists are courteous but some are incredibly arrogant," he said. "From Glasinfryn to Bangor Dock it’s all downhill all the way and on some sections, cyclists can reach speeds of 30-40mph.

"Some of them use it as a race track. It’s crazy and it’s frightening. If they’re going at the speed, you’ve no time to react and often you won’t even hear them coming. It’s beautiful around here, with woods at the side of the path, but if children run out when a cyclist is coming, there could be a really serious accident.

"When these cyclists zoom pass you, before you know it they have gone. Unless they’re local, there’s no way you’ll ever find out who they are."

Mr Hutchinson has complained to Gwynedd Council before about the path which is shared by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, and his story had an all-too-familiar polarising effect with the local news website's readers.

Some took the opportunity to point the finger at reckless riding by some using the path to cycle, with one woman telling the Daily Post she is too scared to use the path after her three-year-old child was nearly "killed" by a cyclist.

A dog walker also reported being knocked over by a cyclist while using the shared-use path.

"No warning – the wind behind the cyclists – and bang......right into me as I went to pull my dog out of the way. The cyclist hit my left side and landed on top of me. Tyre marks remained on my leg for three-and-a-half weeks. Bruised and battered and aching for months," they said.

"I hate walking anywhere near cycle routes now and feel quite scared when I have to."

However, others labelled out-of-control dogs off leads as the main danger to path users.

Mr Hutchinson insists his dog was under control at the time of the collision, even if he was not using a lead.

Wendy Challis-Jones told the online news outlet: "On a cycle path dogs should be on a lead!"

Another reader added: "There are lots of safe places where you can let your dog off the lead, a footpath where there are other pedestrians and cyclists is not one of them. This gentleman epitomises everything that's wrong with a lot of these irresponsible dog walkers. Its heartbreaking that the poor dog has had to pay the price for his folly."

Last month, a district council in Devon made headlines after enforcing a new public space protection order requiring dog walkers to use leads shorter than a metre near cycle paths and highways.

The safety of cyclists was cited for the rule, which does not apply for parks and beaches, but could see owners who walk their dogs on leads longer than a metre fined £100, or face prosecution, with maximum fines reaching £1,000.

So how can shared-use paths be made safer for everyone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments...

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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152 comments

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Jimwill | 2 years ago
4 likes

If im out on the road on one of my bikes, i hope that every artic, bus, car or motor bike would rather go into a hedge then wipe me out. I ride that way when around peds, dogs and horses

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Owd Big 'Ead | 2 years ago
0 likes

What a selfish twat!

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JustTryingToGet... | 2 years ago
10 likes

Whilst it's possible that the cyclist in question was a complete prick doing 40 towards a group of two walkers and four off-leash dogs, it would strike me that it would be a fairly suicidal prick given a bike hitting a dog at 40mph gives no guarantee about who is going to come off worse.

At the risk of over -analysing the article, I'm going to suggest that the four dogs were some way in front of Mr Hutchinson given the description that the silent cyclist 'zoomed past' yet clearly he was not zooming so fast that he was unable to stop for the otherwise undescribed altercation.

Four off-leash dogs can not be under control. Having four dogs off-leash shows no desire to have the dogs under control, what comes across from this is the deep-rooted view that everyone else should get out of the way of the dogs.

This guy should not own dogs.

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Dogless | 2 years ago
4 likes

I really do feel like an arse when I'm rude to people whose dogs run across my front wheel on a shared path, but it's so frustrating and so unnecessary that it just doesn't feel worth the effort to be polite about it.
It often happens on part of my commute where there are acres of grassland either side, but people see fit to let their dogs run loose on the one bit where small children and cyclists happen to be. The best is the ones who allow their dogs to run, out of sight, through a narrow and dark foot tunnel, with no thought for who might be coming through. The one person I asked politely in there to please put her dog on a lead shouted at me that it's a 'fucking shared path' in front of her small children. Yes, correct, so put your dog on a fucking lead.
Obviously I slow down and use caution, let them know I'm coming etc but it's very hard to predict whether a dog is about to suddenly run across the path, so the simple answer is to use a lead, you know, that thing you're carrying in your hand for when you walk next to a road.

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Rik Mayals unde... | 2 years ago
8 likes

"A majority of cyclists are courteous but some are incredibly arrogant," he said.

The same goes for dog owners. Especially the ones with the 100ft long invisible leads, or, worse, the ones with the dogs off the leads out of control.

Such a shame about the poor dog though. it's not the dogs fault.

I have a Lion Bellworks brass bell. It is bloody loud, and carries on for over 20 seconds when I ring it. The amount of times I am ignored is unbelievable, mainly because people walk with earbuds in, or are too engrossed in their phones and have absolutely no idea what is going on around them. Earbuds on a public path should be banned. 

Dog walkers where I cycle are a menace, and it is the owners who create the menace, not the dogs.

There are good and bad cyclists, dog walkers, runners, pedestrians. We should all share with care, and be aware.

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grOg replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 2 years ago
1 like

'Earbuds on a public path should be banned'.. so deaf people aren't allowed to use shared paths either? same effect.

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mikecassie | 2 years ago
0 likes

1st, poor dog, that's the victim here. Both humans were probably thinking they were in the right.  

Shared path, 2m wide, dog is on a short lead but still 1m long.  Owners arm is 0.5m long at a guess and he is walking 0.5m from the edge of the path.  So how much space even a well controlled dog leaves is almost nothing.  Even if the cyclist rang his bell, no guarantee it has been heard and he should've been slowing to a crawl until he was sure the pedestrian had heard him and made space.  How many people walk with earbuds in?  

I've rang my bell and the person ahead checked his phone rather than look around, I'd to speak loudly to make him aware I was approaching him.  A cheery thank you and we both carried on our way.  

Treat others how you'd like to be treated by them, slow down, give as much space as possible and if you make a mistake, apologise and be humble.  Not that difficult is it.  

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Hirsute replied to mikecassie | 2 years ago
2 likes

There was no lead

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brooksby | 2 years ago
3 likes

Is the photo the Very Shared-Use Path from the story?  If so, it seems a bit narrow...

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TriTaxMan replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
6 likes

brooksby wrote:

Is the photo the Very Shared-Use Path from the story?  If so, it seems a bit narrow...

Yes it is from the article.

He (Bob Huchison) does however have a very interesting take "It's a general theme from all cyclists that when you get in an argument with them that this is a cycle track"... that's a direct quote from the video on the article.

I read that as he has form for getting into arguments with cyclists.... which could either be that cyclists have in the past indicated that it's a cycle path/shared use path and that he should have his dog under control..... or there are a signficant number of bad cyclists that he has had arguments with.

I'm making no comment either way..... but it certainly is an interesting choice of words

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Hirsute | 2 years ago
9 likes

Forget cyclists, not everyone likes dogs nor do they like dogs sniffing round them or jumping up at them, so dogs should be on a short lead on these paths.

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Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
14 likes

Dogs should be on leads on a shared path like that for their own protection and that of others, no question. However, looking on Strava I find there is a segment for that section of path, "Glasinfryn to port penrhym", in which the KOM is 44km/h, the top eight are all 40 km/h+ and the top 280 are all 30 km/h+, so clearly a considerable number of cyclists are indeed being utter tools and "Using it as a race track".

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srchar replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
3 likes

But of course you can't tell from Strava data how many others were using the path at the time. I would guess, from a 44 km/h average speed, none.

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andystow replied to srchar | 2 years ago
4 likes

It definitely depends on the path. We have some Strava segments near me on a shared path with KOMs over 40 km/h. I'm pretty far down the rankings at 32-ish km/h, which is just the speed I happened to be riding that day, not me targeting the segment.

On a nice Saturday afternoon, the path may be full of runners, walkers including small children, slow cyclists, and dogs. On a 5 °C overcast weekday morning, it's completely empty. There are no entrances to the path within the segments, excellent sightlines, and the only living thing you're likely to hit is a suicidal rabbit or squirrel.

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Rendel Harris replied to srchar | 2 years ago
8 likes

One would hope so...but even if it appeared empty, it's a two-metre wide path lined with woods from which kids or dogs could appear. In my opinion, 40 km/h should be for roads only.

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grOg replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
3 likes

Completely agree; shared paths should only be ridden at a pace suitable for mixing with pedestrians; no more than 20 kph and less than 10 kph when passing pedestrians.

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Simon E replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
10 likes

I know this path well, it follows an old narrow gauge railway trackbed that served the huge slate quarries at Bethesda (now NCR 82 Lôn Las Ogwen). The photos in the original Daily Post article show the viaduct for the Holyhead line, placing it just south of Bangor and close to a large housing estate of ~4,000 people. This section from the harbour at Porth Penrhyn is smooth and pretty flat so is very popular with people walking. Anyone riding here should 100% expect to meet people (and dogs) at any time of day and ride accordingly.

Riding those segments at 250-300w and speeds of 30 or 40 km/h,  that's absolutely mental and f*&cking reckless in the extreme. If there was a young tearaway on a scrambler doing it we'd want the police down there ASAP. If someone wants to ride fast they can use the quiet road from/to Glasinfryn to the west of the path, which is loads more fun and far safer at speed.

While there is obvious logic in asking dog owners to keep their animals under control on shared paths I feel it is unfair on the dog for them to be on a lead everywhere, particularly in rural locations like this. Much as I dislike long leads, I detest seeing dogs, especially energetic ones like spaniels, restrained all the time. It's just not natural or fair on them.

Anyone can cycle this NCN perfectly safely providing they are considerate and are prepared to slow and even unclip and stop (perish the thought!) if it is appropriate. If you don't like doing that then you can f&*k off and take your selfish attitude somewhere else.

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Rendel Harris replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
11 likes

Thanks for the local knowledge.

Simon E wrote:

If there was a young tearaway on a scrambler doing it we'd want the police down there ASAP.

 

Exactly this, I'm furious if I see a car drive down my 32 km/h street at 40 km/h, empty or not, why on earth would I countenance a cyclist doing it on a 2m wide path?

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TriTaxMan replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
7 likes

Simon E wrote:

While there is obvious logic in asking dog owners to keep their animals under control on shared paths I feel it is unfair on the dog for them to be on a lead everywhere, particularly in rural locations like this. Much as I dislike long leads, I detest seeing dogs, especially energetic ones like spaniels, restrained all the time. It's just not natural or fair on them.

Anyone can cycle this NCN perfectly safely providing they are considerate and are prepared to slow and even unclip and stop (perish the thought!) if it is appropriate. If you don't like doing that then you can f&*k off and take your selfish attitude somewhere else.

I say this as an owner of a particularly exuberant 18 month old Labrador, there is a time and a place to let a dog run free, and a shared use path is not one of them.  If the dog is of an energetic breed why not take them to some nice wide open parks/fields away from traffic and cyclists for them to expend their energy.  If they are well behaved enough off the lead to walk to heel then that's fine walking them off the lead on a shared use path but if not they should be on a lead.

I guess I could take my dog onto an NCN route and have her run free and play with her toys and expect every cyclist to slow down and stop for my dog becuase she is an energetic dog and she should be allowed to run free wherever I choose.  Or should I f&*k off and take that selfish attitude somewhere else?

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Simon E replied to TriTaxMan | 2 years ago
4 likes

TriTaxMan wrote:

I guess I could take my dog onto an NCN route and have her run free and play with her toys and expect every cyclist to slow down and stop for my dog becuase she is an energetic dog and she should be allowed to run free wherever I choose.  Or should I f&*k off and take that selfish attitude somewhere else?

It is the cyclist's responsibility to avoid the collision regardless of the supposed behaviour of the dog and its owner.

The whole route is a shared facility but walkers are there to relax and many won't expect something that moves considerably faster than other walkers and is almost silent. Regardless of what the Highway Code says, if you cycle along there and you assume people will move out of your way or anticipate your approach and immediately bring their dog under control then you are going to get a nasty surprise.

It's the same if a child suddenly changed direction during a family stroll (as they do), the approaching cyclist must anticipate it and be prepared to stop. Or are the speed calming measures and 20 mph zones by all schools etc are a waste of time and parents should be responsible for their kids (even if unaccompanied) while SUV tanks can whizz past at 30mph or more? Where does the hierarchy of road users fit?

Since an 8mph pootle, freewheeling and unclipping at intervals isn't usually what I want from a ride I will leave Bangor on the A5 and join the path via Lôn Cefn Ty (south of the industrial estate), omitting the busiest part. Returning from Ogwen or Llanberis I ride through Tregarth and Glasinfryn on the road and follow the unclassified road on the western side of the valley. There are many other great routes for cyclists wanting to 'get a wriggle on' in this area. It's just on the edge of Snowdonia NP, after all. This path isn't one of them.

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Rich_cb replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
5 likes
Simon E wrote:

It is the cyclist's responsibility to avoid the collision regardless of the supposed behaviour of the dog and its owner.

This simply isn't true.

See the recent case where the cyclist sued for £50k (IIRC) and won after a collision with a dog on a shared use path that led to a serious injury.

Dog owners have a responsibility to other path users. The dog must be completely under control, if it is not and someone is injured as a consequence then they are liable.

In this particular case we have no objective evidence that the cyclist was doing anything wrong. We have an admission from the dog owner that he was not complying with the highway code.

At best it is shared liability but I wouldn't like to take my chances in court as the dog owner.

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Simon E replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
4 likes

Rich_cb wrote:
Simon E wrote:

It is the cyclist's responsibility to avoid the collision regardless of the supposed behaviour of the dog and its owner.

This simply isn't true.

Whatever.

If you kill or injure a dog or child on a shared path you may be legally 'in the right' if it goes to court. However, the victim will still be dead or injured when that need not have happened in the first place.

It's easy to quote the rules and what everyone should do but in the end I'd rather make the effort to avoid such an outcome.

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TriTaxMan replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
2 likes
Simon E wrote:

Whatever.

If you kill or injure a dog or child on a shared path you may be legally 'in the right' if it goes to court. However, the victim will still be dead or injured when that need not have happened in the first place.

It's easy to quote the rules and what everyone should do but in the end I'd rather make the effort to avoid such an outcome.

Just out of question did you watch the video on the news site?

The victim stated that the cyclist left the tarmac path and went onto the grass to go round the victim and his friends and other dogs. Given what looks like a pretty sharp edge to the shared use path.... do you not think it is likely that the cyclist slowed down?

The only thing that we know for certain is that the cyclist collided with the dog, nothing more or less. But given the available limited facts you have come to the opinion that the cyclist was going too fast and that was the reason for the collision and anyone who disagrees with your opinion is brushed off...

With a reply like "whatever" to someone's point is it any wonder cyclists get branded as arrogant?

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Rich_cb replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
2 likes

Whatever speed you're cycling at it can be impossible to miss a dog.

Consider a greyhound running out of bushes at full tilt.

What's your reaction time?

The only way to ensure you don't hit a dog is to give up cycling all together.

The dog owner has a responsibility towards their dog and towards cyclists. If they are negligent, as this dog owner was, then they must accept the consequences of their own negligence.

The dog owner is fortunate the cyclist wasn't injured or he'd have two expensive bills to pay and two injuries on his conscience.

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chrisonabike replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
0 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

Whatever speed you're cycling at it can be impossible to miss a dog. [...]The only way to ensure you don't hit a dog is to give up cycling all together.[...]

I wonder if something else is at the root of your concern?

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
1 like

Can I suggest fitting wolves as a deterrent?

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TriTaxMan replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
2 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

Whatever speed you're cycling at it can be impossible to miss a dog. Consider a greyhound running out of bushes at full tilt. What's your reaction time? The only way to ensure you don't hit a dog is to give up cycling all together. The dog owner has a responsibility towards their dog and towards cyclists. If they are negligent, as this dog owner was, then they must accept the consequences of their own negligence. The dog owner is fortunate the cyclist wasn't injured or he'd have two expensive bills to pay and two injuries on his conscience.

Or any kind of dog running out of the bushes at full tilt for that matter.  There is a signficant chance that you couldn't react in time.

Unfortunately Simon cannot be convinced that a cyclist who is involved in a collision with a more vulnerable road user may have done everything that they (Simon) would have done to manage their behaviour.  And despite managing their behaviour they were still involved in a collision.

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Simon E replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
1 like

Rich_cb wrote:

The only way to ensure you don't hit a dog is to give up cycling all together.

Bullshit.

It's disheartening to discover that you couldn't come up with something better than this level of whataboutery.

Meanwhile if you and some of the others wish to go round educating dog owners and enforcing the rules then good luck with that. You're going to need it! It would be great if owners kept their mutts under control but sadly that isn't going to happen. I also have no intention of chasing segment times on Ogwen or any of the shared paths I use.

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TriTaxMan replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
2 likes

Simon E wrote:

Bullshit.

It's disheartening to discover that you couldn't come up with something better than this level of whataboutery.

Meanwhile if you and some of the others wish to go round educating dog owners and enforcing the rules then good luck with that. You're going to need it! It would be great if owners kept their mutts under control but sadly that isn't going to happen. I also have no intention of chasing segment times on Ogwen or any of the shared paths I use.

Simon.... you really need to take an objective look at things.

You are showing complete bias because some people use shared use paths to chase strava segments therefore due to the fact that the cyclist hit a dog that they must have been going too fast.  The irony in the fact that your entire argument is based on whaboutery is not missed by people when you call others out for whataboutery.

You have never answered the question.  What PROOF do you have that the cyclist in question was going too fast?

I mean its not like people who know they are in the wrong will make stuff up to try and hide their failings.... the whole "the cyclist zoomed past me" could easily be a deflection by the dog walker because they knew their dog wasn't under control.  It doesn't have the same inflammatory effect saying "a cyclist out for a leisurely ride along a shared use path hit my out of control dog meaning I needed to have it's leg amputated" does it?

But before you accuse me of whataboutery.... which I know you will.  I have never said the cyclist is innocent, nor have I said they are guilty of doing anything.... I am simpy keeping an open mind..... you know the whole innocent until proven guilty view point..... something that seems to escape you.

Rich's point is valid.  There are times despite doing everything right a cyclist can still be involved in an accident.... but you brush it off as Bullshit.

All of your comments are implying that because you haven't been involved in an accident you are a superior cylist to all others who hold a contrary view to you.... and dare I say it that comes across as pretty arrogant.

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Simon E replied to TriTaxMan | 2 years ago
0 likes

TriTaxMan wrote:

You are showing complete bias because some people use shared use paths to chase strava segments therefore due to the fact that the cyclist hit a dog that they must have been going too fast.

Where did I write or even suggest that?

I didn't raise the issue of strava segments but I'm appalled that some people think it's OK to chase segment times averaging 30-40 km/h down that path. I can imagine that doing so could end very badly.

TriTaxMan wrote:

The irony in the fact that your entire argument is based on whaboutery is not missed by people when you call others out for whataboutery.

Incorrect. I proposed that the whole concept of expecting/asking dog owners to 'behave correctly' on a shared path is flawed and unworkable; that a cyclist using such a facility needs to do whatever is required to avoid a collision.

TriTaxMan wrote:

You have never answered the question.  What PROOF do you have that the cyclist in question was going too fast?

I don't believe I ever discussed the behaviour of the cyclist involved in the incident, only the way I think cyclists need to behave on a path like the one in the article. Are you confusing my comments with other posts? I know nothing about the cyclist's behaviour. What I do know about is the location of the incident and the typical behaviour of the people who use it. I've both cycled and walked along there plenty of times. I know it well.

TriTaxMan wrote:

I have never said the cyclist is innocent, nor have I said they are guilty of doing anything.... I am simpy keeping an open mind..... you know the whole innocent until proven guilty view point..... something that seems to escape you.

Where did I say the cyclist was guilty?

TriTaxMan wrote:

Rich's point is valid.  There are times despite doing everything right a cyclist can still be involved in an accident.... but you brush it off as Bullshit.

He wrote "The only way to ensure you don't hit a dog is to give up cycling all together." That sounds like bullshit to me and I don't care if you disagree.

I'd suggest that your statement and his are two different things. I can be involved in a collision (or 'accident' if you prefer) with or without blame. If I hit a dog while cycling on a shared path the odds are that I - or any cyclist - could have avoided the collision. I have never claimed to have any special abilities.

TriTaxMan wrote:

All of your comments are implying that because you haven't been involved in an accident you are a superior cylist to all others who hold a contrary view to you.... and dare I say it that comes across as pretty arrogant.

Incorrect, as mentioned above, but feel free to continue with those misconceptions.

I don't know if you've confused my comments with someone else's or whether you've misread them or I've written them in a manner that is easy to misinterpret. I will reiterate my essential point which is that, regardless of the possible behaviour of dogs or other people, a cyclist on paths like that should be prepared to stop to avoid hitting them.

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