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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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the little onion | 2 years ago
13 likes

Highway code rule 56 "Dogs. Do not let a dog out on the road on its own. Keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders."

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Christopher TR1 | 2 years ago
7 likes

Poor dog. Personally I wouldn't let my dog off the lead on a road or SUP.

Unfortunately, dog owners and pedestrians very often take absolutely no notice of what's going on around them. If I'm using a SUP as a pedestrian I'm walking to one side of the path. If I'm with my family and we are spreading across the path, I will glance behind often and be aware of others just like I keep an eye on what's happening behind when cycling or driving. I seem to be in the minority.

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the little onion replied to Christopher TR1 | 2 years ago
6 likes

I'm not sure what I hate more, shared use paths as cycling "infrastructure", or arrogant dog owners who refuse to take any responsibility

(clearly you are not in the latter category, but you are probably a minority)

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brooksby | 2 years ago
4 likes

"too sacred to use the path"?  3

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Rendel Harris replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
11 likes

brooksby wrote:

"too sacred to use the path"?  3

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men...

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mdavidford replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
8 likes

brooksby wrote:

"too sacred to use the path"?  3

And people accuse cyclists of having a holier-than-thou attitude...

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
2 likes

Matthew inna King James Bible wrote:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

I take issue with the "strait" part ([EDIT actually of course this is archaic "limited capacity" so that's fine...] see previous discussions about gates in the "barrier" sense) but in the UK he's certainly spot on regarding lack of width and navigational difficulties.

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Jack Sexty replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
2 likes

A source just this minute told us she changed her mind and is scared rather than sacred now. That's why we waited six hours to change it.  1 

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JustTryingToGet... | 2 years ago
18 likes

If I've read the article correctly, Mr Hutchinsin is claiming that it was his view before this incident that cyclists use the path as a race track reaching 40 mph, but still thought it was a good idea to have four dogs off a lead on it.

That poor dog lost it's leg because you can own dogs despite being a fucking moron.

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nosferatu1001 replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 2 years ago
3 likes

That was my reading as well 

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open_roads | 2 years ago
6 likes

It sounds like cyclists should slow down / be more considerate but that dog walkers need to keep their pets on a short lead and ensure they are not wandering across the path - less than 1m is typically recommended.

Everyone should be considerate towards others.

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Rich_cb | 2 years ago
12 likes

If you're on a shared use path your dog should be on a short lead.

We know that this dog was not.

Cyclists should ride carefully around pedestrians and other path users.

We have no evidence that this cyclist was not doing so.

Unless there's evidence that the cyclist was in some way negligent it seems that the fault lies entirely with the dog owner.

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open_roads replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
4 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

We have no evidence that this cyclist was not doing so.

As a cyclist and a dog owner I always slow down when there are dogs / small children etc on paths - for the simple reason that their behaviour is unpredictable. So in this case even if the dog was off the lead (which it shouldn't have been) the cyclist should still have slowed down to anticipate the risk.

My sympathy goes to the dog.

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Rich_cb replied to open_roads | 2 years ago
9 likes

We have no evidence the cyclist did not slow down.

Sometimes a dog is unavoidable.

Unless we have proof that the cyclist was at fault the blame has to lie squarely with the dog owner.

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Hirsute replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
3 likes

The only way to avoid a dog issue is to be at walking pace ie it is no longer a cycle path, it's just a footpath.

The other thing to add courtesy of a scottish doctor who posted on here a couple of years ago is about injuries. They said they had to do stats on knee injuries for their new clinic and the most common cause was dog injuries from either tripping over the lead or the dog jumping up and causing the person to stumble.

The idea that the risk with dogs about can be eliminated is not correct.

 

edit April 20

“I work as an orthopaedic and trauma surgeon

a few years ago we introduced a subspecialist acute knee injury clinic in parallel with the local fracture clinic. As with all new services, this was audited after it had become established. The unexpected finding was that the single greatest source of acute knee injury was dog walking (54%) with common mechanisms being tripping over tree roots, slipping on uneven ground or being knocked over by their or another person's dog”

 

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IanMSpencer replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
8 likes

Walking pace doesn't work. You still have to beware of the "He's just being friendly."

At the very start of lock down, I was out walking, and very nervous as many of us were. Some old biddy thought I was very rude for asking her to recall her dog and keep it under control, it was just being friendly.

I've had 3 dogs, and have always been accutely embarrassed by any failure to control my dog where it inconvenienced other people (and with guide dog puppies, you are encouraged to take them into places with other people). I think the most embarrassing one was guide dog puppy licking the ear of the gentleman sitting in the row in front at a cinema. He took it quite well - it was only during the adverts and she settled down after that.

All told, dog walkers usually take any request to control their dogs as a personal insult. I have also been amazed how many people say things like "He's only one so we haven't started training him yet."

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Hirsute replied to IanMSpencer | 2 years ago
0 likes

Sure, which is why I mentioned the issues identified with the knee clinic - the risk can't be avoided simply by third parties taking care.

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wycombewheeler replied to IanMSpencer | 2 years ago
1 like

IanMSpencer wrote:

the most embarrassing one was guide dog puppy licking the ear of the gentleman sitting in the row in front at a cinema.

Probably thought he'd pulled until he tuned round. Maybe not too upset as the licker was still really cute.

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brooksby replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
0 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

IanMSpencer wrote:

the most embarrassing one was guide dog puppy licking the ear of the gentleman sitting in the row in front at a cinema.

Probably thought he'd pulled until he tuned round. Maybe not too upset as the licker was still really cute.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mk3JXFadEg

"Oh my god, will you look at her!"

"That's a poodle."

"Well, yeah, but look at her"

(abridged)

 

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PRSboy replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
0 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

We have no evidence the cyclist did not slow down. Sometimes a dog is unavoidable. Unless we have proof that the cyclist was at fault the blame has to lie squarely with the dog owner.

I think in all probability we do.  The fact that he was unable to stop despite passing a known hazard (which would include the dog, or the man who might have fallen over his shoelaces) shows he riding too fast for the conditions and not leaving sufficient space.

 

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Hirsute replied to PRSboy | 2 years ago
1 like

Plenty of scenarios on the road where as a driver, cyclist, it is not possible to stop despite the road being clear.

As to presumed liability in respect of drivers and cyclists the parallel is cyclists and pedestrians. Dogs feature as being needed to be kept under control as per rule 56.

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TriTaxMan replied to PRSboy | 2 years ago
1 like

PRSboy wrote:

I think in all probability we do.  The fact that he was unable to stop despite passing a known hazard (which would include the dog, or the man who might have fallen over his shoelaces) shows he riding too fast for the conditions and not leaving sufficient space.

As I've said repeatedly there is only the word of the dog walker about the cyclist going too fast.  Anything else is pure speculation

I presume that if you are cycling on a main road, approaching a junction with a car wanting to pull out.  If you moderate your spped on approach to the junction, and at the last second the car driver pulls out of the junction in front of you and you crash into their car.  I guess that shows you were riding too fast for the conditions and not leaving sufficient space despite passing a known hazard.

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OnYerBike replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
2 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

Cyclists should ride carefully around pedestrians and other path users. We have no evidence that this cyclist was not doing so. Unless there's evidence that the cyclist was in some way negligent it seems that the fault lies entirely with the dog owner.

We have the fact that the cyclist did collide with the dog, and broke the dog's ankle. It is frustrating as a cyclist, but nonetheless the responsible thing to do is accept that a dog may act unpredictably and slow right down to walking speed and be prepared to stop if necessary. None of us actually witnessed this incident so we can't say for sure what happened, but it seems to me more likely than not that the cyclist failed to slow down sufficiently and therefore is at least at some fault.

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morgoth985 replied to OnYerBike | 2 years ago
3 likes

The responsible thing to do is for the dog owner to take precautions against the dog acting unpredictably.  What seems to you more likely than not is irrelevant, because as you correctly point out, we didn't witness it.

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GMBasix replied to OnYerBike | 2 years ago
4 likes

OnYerBike wrote:

Rich_cb wrote:

Cyclists should ride carefully around pedestrians and other path users. We have no evidence that this cyclist was not doing so. Unless there's evidence that the cyclist was in some way negligent it seems that the fault lies entirely with the dog owner.

We have the fact that the cyclist did collide with the dog, and broke the dog's ankle. It is frustrating as a cyclist, but nonetheless the responsible thing to do is accept that a dog may act unpredictably and slow right down to walking speed and be prepared to stop if necessary. None of us actually witnessed this incident so we can't say for sure what happened, but it seems to me more likely than not that the cyclist failed to slow down sufficiently and therefore is at least at some fault.

We have the fact that there was a collision involving a dog and a cycle/ist. But it remains a question as to whether the dog collided with the cycle/ist or vice versa.

On balance, I'm with rich_cb on this.  Cyclists have a duty of care to pedestrians, but the pedestrian has a duty of care to control their dog.  They also have a duty to be aware of their surroundings and not to cause an unnecessary obstruction (not that that absolves the cyclist's duty, which is greater). More than that requires facts of the case that are not clear here.

There seem to be some resort to unestablished equivalence in the story telling, between the case at point and general (anecdotal) reports of careless speeds from some people on cycles.

 

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TriTaxMan replied to OnYerBike | 2 years ago
2 likes

OnYerBike wrote:

We have the fact that the cyclist did collide with the dog, and broke the dog's ankle. It is frustrating as a cyclist, but nonetheless the responsible thing to do is accept that a dog may act unpredictably and slow right down to walking speed and be prepared to stop if necessary. None of us actually witnessed this incident so we can't say for sure what happened, but it seems to me more likely than not that the cyclist failed to slow down sufficiently and therefore is at least at some fault.

None of us can say for sure either that the dog did not run in front of the cyclist giving them no time to react, and no matter the speed of collision putting 50% of the weight of an adult human through a very small contact point of a bike tyre could easily break the bones in a dogs ankle.

Do you have anything other than speculation that the cyclist failed to slow down sufficiently?

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OnYerBike replied to TriTaxMan | 2 years ago
0 likes

TriTaxMan wrote:

OnYerBike wrote:

We have the fact that the cyclist did collide with the dog, and broke the dog's ankle. It is frustrating as a cyclist, but nonetheless the responsible thing to do is accept that a dog may act unpredictably and slow right down to walking speed and be prepared to stop if necessary. None of us actually witnessed this incident so we can't say for sure what happened, but it seems to me more likely than not that the cyclist failed to slow down sufficiently and therefore is at least at some fault.

None of us can say for sure either that the dog did not run in front of the cyclist giving them no time to react, and no matter the speed of collision putting 50% of the weight of an adult human through a very small contact point of a bike tyre could easily break the bones in a dogs ankle.

Do you have anything other than speculation that the cyclist failed to slow down sufficiently?

We have the owner's account of events, although I appreciate that is hardly likely to be unbiased.

Moreover, it is equally speculative to assert that the cyclist did slow down sufficiently, was prepared to stop, and the dog ran out at just the wrong time such that a collision could not be avoided. I maintain that such a sequence of events, whilst possible, is less likely than the alternative. 

I don't think it does anyone any favours to pretend that all cyclists are perfect in every way, all the time, and I don't think we should be rushing to absolve the cyclist entirely and put all the blame on the dog owner.

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TriTaxMan replied to OnYerBike | 2 years ago
0 likes

OnYerBike wrote:

We have the owner's account of events, although I appreciate that is hardly likely to be unbiased.

Moreover, it is equally speculative to assert that the cyclist did slow down sufficiently, was prepared to stop, and the dog ran out at just the wrong time such that a collision could not be avoided. I maintain that such a sequence of events, whilst possible, is less likely than the alternative. 

I don't think it does anyone any favours to pretend that all cyclists are perfect in every way, all the time, and I don't think we should be rushing to absolve the cyclist entirely and put all the blame on the dog owner.

Lets see what I said earlier (i've added emphasis)

TriTaxMan wrote:

While I feel sorry that the dog has had to have its leg amputated there is something off with the mans story.  It smacks of a he said they said scenario.... but with only the dog walkers perspective.  He says they never heard the cyclist ringing their bell..... did they not hear it or did they choose to ignore it or did the cyclist not ring their bell?

Too many variables to make a call on who was at fault.

I have never attempted to blame the dog owner, I have just posed questions or offered alternative possible theories which could have resulted in a collision.

Reading down the comments most people are intent on blaming the cyclist based as you have..... on speculation because they think their perspective is more likely.

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wycombewheeler replied to OnYerBike | 2 years ago
0 likes

OnYerBike wrote:

Rich_cb wrote:

Cyclists should ride carefully around pedestrians and other path users. We have no evidence that this cyclist was not doing so. Unless there's evidence that the cyclist was in some way negligent it seems that the fault lies entirely with the dog owner.

We have the fact that the cyclist did collide with the dog, and broke the dog's ankle. It is frustrating as a cyclist, but nonetheless the responsible thing to do is accept that a dog may act unpredictably and slow right down to walking speed and be prepared to stop if necessary. None of us actually witnessed this incident so we can't say for sure what happened, but it seems to me more likely than not that the cyclist failed to slow down sufficiently and therefore is at least at some fault.

I'm inclined to agree with this, unless the dog was 100m away from the owner and suddenly lept out of the bushes, the rider was aware there was a walker and dogs and should have slowed down.

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TriTaxMan replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
3 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

I'm inclined to agree with this, unless the dog was 100m away from the owner and suddenly lept out of the bushes, the rider was aware there was a walker and dogs and should have slowed down.

Do you know they never slowed down? 

I had an incredibly close near miss with a dog last year, and it was just pure luck that I never hit the dog, and I was doing about 5mph at the time (I was able to review the helmet cam footage after the incident).  A springer spaniel came bounding out of the undergrowth, which was about 2m from the edge of the path, at such speed that I had no time to react, even though I had slowed down to a speed just above a brisk walk..... and in that instance I avoided the dog but I was the one that got a mouthful of abuse from the dog walker..... because I was going too fast apparently.

And are you seriously saying that if you ride on a shared use path and you pass someone with a dog.... that you keep going slow for the next 100m, on the possibility that they may have another dog that isn't with them?

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