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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    23

    Unhappy Hit a dog when cycling today -- advice?

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    I'm not even sure exactly what happened, but I feel pretty horrible...

    I was on the local bike trail tonight, going about 16 mph or so. I saw people cross the trail in front of me and a dog following behind. I unclipped my pedals and prepared to stop, but when I saw the dog turn in the other direction (away from the trail), I decided to not stop. The owners saw the dog turn too and called for him to come, which required him crossing in front of me on the trail. By that time, I had no time to stop and did what I could by slamming on the brakes and jumping off my bike. Neither me nor the dog (as far as I can tell) were hurt. The chain got knocked off my bike, but it was easy to fix and everything else appears fine.

    The owners apologized profusely and continued to ask if I was okay. I am definitely okay physically, but really shaken up mentally. I keep replaying the accident in my head and thinking that I should have never trusted an unleashed dog to not make abrupt turns. I feel like a horrible cyclist that should have had faster reflexes, better bike handling skills, something. I am really nervous about getting back on the trail again after this incident, which is probably a good thing for all of the dogs out there, I suppose.

    I would appreciate advice in how to handle situations like these though...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Vermont
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    It's completely irresponsible for pet owners to take unleashed dogs on a multi-use trail. This is a pet peeve of mine.

    So part of my advice to you is to recognize that it's mostly the fault of the dog owners, so you should not feel like a horrible person.

    HOWEVER ---

    you should be looking "four cars ahead" too (like I'm sure you do when you're driving your car). if you see someone who *might* cross the path *around* when you might possibly be nearing the intersection, it's usually best on a multi-use path to cede pedestrians the right of way even when you rightfully have it (in my opinion). So when you see them coming up, slow way down to a roll and be prepared to stop without having to slam on your brakes. If there is a "who goes first" dance, stop and wave them through, with their dog too. This means that you need to slow to a 3mph roll. To be clear, if they're crossing and you have the right of way, they SHOULD yield to you, but since you are faster, more alert and more dangerous, it's smart and considerate to assume they won't, and especially to assume dogs or small children won't. So to the extent that the error was yours at all, it was not an error of reflexes or bike handling skills, but a failure to slow down soon enough given the road conditions -- kind of like people who zoom up to intersections all ready to roll through the stop sign, only to have to slam on their brakes because lo and behold, there's an oncoming car, or people who don't slow down in marked work zones until they almost hit a flagger (I was guilty of this once, luckily no one actually got hit but I had a VIP from work in the car whom I was speeding to the airport, and I was pretty darn embarrassed so I haven't made that mistake since).

    Some people may consider this approach too passive, and maybe it is, but it keeps everyone safe and hopefully doesn't damage the reputation of cyclists too much.

    When I started riding, I used the bike path a lot. Now that I've gotten more experienced and faster, I rarely use it because I feel like I spend most of my time slowing down for other people. I suppose I could be one of those renegade riders who will pass you with no verbal warning at a six-inch distance, but that's just not really my style.
    Last edited by VeloVT; 08-26-2009 at 11:02 PM.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2006
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    Oh, and eye contact and verbal communication that clearly signals your intent are very important. So, "go ahead" if you are going to wait for them, or if you absolutely can't stop, something like "bike coming through", voiced as early as is reasonable, will help you take control of the situation (to everyone's benefit).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Skagit County, Washington
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    1,306
    Glad you are both ok. I can totally see that happening -- especially on trails, I tend to keep my eyes glued to the ground.

    I had a dog come into the clinic who had been run over and rolled by a cyclist coming down a large hill in a multi-use trail area -- and no, it had not been on a leash. It ended up seeming to be fine, also. The owner was ranting about the cyclist going too fast on public trails... when in fact, had he paid attention and had the dog on the leash, he could likely have gotten everyone out of the way.
    Everyone Deserves a Lifetime

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Oz
    Posts
    12
    Happy to hear that you are both ok. I know being a dog owner myself sometimes it is a reflex to call the dog to come to you if you know a bike is approaching. Our dog will often come with us on rides & has learnt to stay behind the bike but we've also found that if we hear other riders or pedestrians & sometimes horses approaching & she has happened to run in front of us if we don't call her she is less unpredictable & will make her own decision to get out of the way. But of course the safest way for all involved is to keep the dog on the leash if there's other traffic around.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Blessed to be all over the place!
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    liza +1, but don't beat yourself up too much...you cannot prepare for all forms of irresponsibility from others
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Switzerland
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    uh. I hit a tourist once. Stop worrying about it, it's the dog owners' fault.
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  8. #8
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    Oct 2004
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    Arlington, VA
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    Liza, great advice. You really have to stay alert. On a daily basis, I have rabbits dart out in front of me---on the MUT and on the road.

    Is there a leash law in your jurisdiction? But to be honest, even leashed dogs are unpredictable (my dogs are always on the leash when not in the house or fenced backyard).

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
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    I almost hit a labrador on the trail last weekend. It made me so mad. I hate it when people take their dog out without a leash. It's just plain irresponsible. Plus I LOVE dogs and I would hate to hurt a dog in any way.

    It also makes me mad when I take my dog on a walk in our own neighborhood and I have to worry about a fight because the other people don't have their dog on a leash. Several times I have had large dogs run at me and my dog barking and it totally freaks me out. My dog is all of 7 pounds and is no match for any dog that wants to attack it. Even if the other dog is friendly it is very unpleasant to have a large dog run at me and my dog and have to wonder in that split second what that dogs intentions are.
    Last edited by beancounterbeth; 08-27-2009 at 07:55 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Marin County CA
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    5,936
    I started a whole thread once ranting about people who don't keep their dogs on leashes... http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showt...ighlight=leash

    Definitely not your fault. Shake it off.
    Sarah

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.


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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
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    You learned something. The dog owner learned something. This is good.
    The dog probably didn't learn anything, but oh well.

    And dogs should NOT be off-leash on a public multi-use trail.
    Lisa
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Limbo
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    Dogs should not be off leash on a MUT. No argument.
    But it could just as well have been a child.
    A heavily populated MUT isn't the best place to be riding the upper end of the speed limit.
    I always expect pedestrians, children and dogs to do the unexpected.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
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    8,408
    Quote Originally Posted by Zen View Post
    Dogs should not be off leash on a MUT. No argument.
    But it could just as well have been a child.
    A heavily populated MUT isn't the best place to be riding the upper end of the speed limit.
    I always expect pedestrians, children and dogs to do the unexpected.
    I agree. And personally, I feel way safer riding on a busy street in traffic than I have on the few scary times I've ridden on popular multi-use trails.
    Lisa
    My mountain dulcimer network...FOTMD.com...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    My personal blog:My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    The Great White North
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    662
    Quote Originally Posted by BleeckerSt_Girl View Post
    I agree. And personally, I feel way safer riding on a busy street in traffic than I have on the few scary times I've ridden on popular multi-use trails.
    I absolutely agree. The only time I ride the MUTs is early spring or late fall or when the weather is crappy and there is hardly a sole out there but me. As bad and aggressive as drivers can be, clueless peds, joggers and roller bladers with ear buds, loose dogs and wandering children can be so much more dangerous.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    23
    Thank you all so much for the comments.

    There is a leash law here, I believe. Most owners seem to follow it, although I have run across some that let the leash stretch across the trail (dog on one side, owner on the other), which seemed like a dangerous situation to me.

    I think I'm mad at myself about last night because usually I am one of those overly-cautious people that slows down before every intersection, around every person, etc. I think I was upset about work and focusing on that, instead of riding, which was a huge mistake. I did ride on the main road home and am trying to do that more often, but being ultra-sensitive to noise and smells, the trails are sometimes a more appealing option for me.

    I also usually ride in the early morning and have started riding at night (pretty awesome), so may not be as familiar with what is a reasonable speed to travel on the trail.
    Last edited by athena; 08-27-2009 at 05:01 PM.

 

 

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