Dogs off lead are a danger to cyclists

October 01 2020

SINCE lockdown I have taken up cycling for exercise and I regularly use the cycle paths around Wells.

Unfortunately, many local dog owners behave irresponsibly on these shared paths by allowing their dogs to be off the lead. Indeed the other day I encountered a lady on the cycle path between the leisure centre and Haybridge with three dogs running out of control, of which one she told me was deaf and another blind. She was completely unaware of the danger she posed.

Clearly uncontrolled dogs on shared pathways are a menace and pose a hazard to cyclists and the dogs themselves. Recently, a cyclist, albeit not locally, was awarded £65,000 in compensation after suffering injuries when he became entangled in a long extendable lead on a shared path. This took place as he cycled to the left of a group of pedestrians and after ringing his bell one of the pedestrians’ dogs darted out in front of him. The cyclist suffered serious head injuries.

Dog owners should also be aware that should I or any other cyclist collide with a dog not on a short lead on a path and the dog is injured, they would be unlikely to be able to claim any cost for vet bills provided that I was not cycling recklessly.

While there is no legal requirement to keep dogs on a lead on cycle paths the advice in the Highway Code is very specific. Rule 57 states “that dogs should be on a short lead on a path shared with cyclists”. This advice is really common sense when one considers that bikes on cycle paths are usually travelling between 8 and 15mph.

With the advent of more cycling around our city and the possibility of more shared pathways being constructed, it is important that pedestrians, dog walkers and cyclists themselves behave responsibly.
That way we can all enjoy our local cycle paths and the stunning surrounding countryside.

Clive Edney
By email