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"Everybody has to take greater care": Cyclists react to ban on long dog leads near cycle paths

From April, Teignbridge District Council will enforce a new public space protection order requiring dogs walkers to use leads shorter than a metre near cycle paths and highways, or face a fine

Earlier in the week a district council in Devon made headlines after announcing an extension of a public space protection order banning dog walkers from using long leads near cycle paths or highways.

Those who use leads longer than one metre risk on-the-spot £100 fines when the rules come into effect from April.

> Cyclists' safety highlighted as dog walkers face fines for using long leads near cycle paths

The rule does not apply to parks and beaches, with Teignbridge District Council pledging to improve signage to communicate the changes to the public.

So how has the announcement been received amongst the cycling community?

Some expressed their approval at the change, with extendable dog leads being singled out by many as a danger to those on two wheels.

Fursty Ferret, for example, said: "I think it's the right decision. There seems to be a new trend for dog walkers to buy extendable leads which are just a thin wire and completely invisible until you ride into it."

In 2017, a London cyclist wrote to Mayor Sadiq Khan after suffering slashes to his face, back and clothes due to an "almost invisible" dog lead stretched across a path in Blackheath.

Biker Phil added: "On my local shared tracks, the problems I see are usually dogs on a long lead, or worse, dogs which are off the lead but not under control: I approach slowly and sound my bell, the dog runs around almost getting caught in my wheels as it tries to bite me whilst the owner tries to call the dog which completely ignores them."

Bill Smiles also commented: "As a cyclist and proud collie owner I have come to loathe extendable leads. Either the dog is on a short lead or it's off lead in the woods etc where it won't cause a problem and return when called. I know, I know, loose dogs can be a pain but at least you can avoid them and not worry about a lead. By the way I'm a postie and had more experience than most people of aggressive dogs."

In response to a question from another reader asking why a dog owner might choose to use an extendable lead, Podc replied: "I'll have a go. We have a dog that loves people but is scared by other dogs. The fear triggers an unpredictable reactive response which is sometimes the fight part of fight or flight.

"No idea what made him like this but we've been unable to fix it. So when we walk him, he has to stay on a lead. An extending lead gives him a degree of freedom to do doggy things but we can keep him under control and to heel on a shortened lead if required. Hope that helps."

Old Ridgeback also suggested responsibility for everyone's safety must be a collective issue when in shared spaces.

"In shared spaces everybody has to take greater care. When I'm riding round my local park, I always slow down when there are kids or dogs about because they're unpredictable.

"I'm a dog owner too and I can't tell you how many times I've had close passes by riders concentrating on their Strava performance. I don't use a long lead but it is a public park and dogs are allowed to be off lead."

Mungecrundle agreed: "I was thinking the same. Yes, dog walkers should keep their pets under control, but also in a shared space you have to be prepared to yield your priority, go a bit slower and make allowances for the errors of others.

"Rather like the tolerance, care and basic decency that some of us patiently and endlessly encourage from the mouth breathers that infest every local news Facebook story even tangentially linked to cyclists."

bike.brain commented: "I'm a cyclist and a dog owner. When walking my dog, I liken being passed too fast and too close by a cyclist with little or no warning to being close passed by a car driver on the road.

"Wherever there's a dog on a shared path there should be an owner and, taking into account the new hierarchy of road users, the Highway Code now says that cyclists should give way to pedestrians. I always slow down whenever there's a pedestrian and go even slower where there's also children or a dog involved whether on a lead or not.

"I frequently exercise my dog on a shared-use path by the canal and there are signs that say that cyclists should give way to pedestrians. I find the main danger is cyclists coming up from behind too fast without using a bell or giving any type of warning.  We need time to recall the dog.  Given enough warning my dog will come to me and sit while a cyclist passes by.

"Dogs need exercise and proper exercise involves the dog being on a long lead or preferably off lead. Properly exercised dogs are generally better behaved. When dogs aren't exercised properly they can become prone to bad or obsessive behaviour. A dog is not going to get proper exercise on a one-metre lead."

We thought better of sharing the jokes about dogs needing to wear hi-vis, helmets and day lights if they want to use the paths...

What do you think? Is the public space protection order a good idea? 

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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