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Cyclists behaving badly

Cyclists behaving badly

As President of the BBC I received this email today. I am also posting my response to her.

This is an enquiry email via http://www.baltobikeclub.org/ from:
Julia Harris <julia.l.filz@gmail.com>

Good morning,
I may be totally off and this incident had nothing to do with your group, but since you have a scheduled ride in my general area, I thought I'd reach out. I live on Powells Run Road, close to Liberty Reservoir. On the weekends, a number of groups of bike riders, often 10 or so in a pack, ride up the street from Marriottsville Road to Liberty Road. It drives my dog, a 2-year-old boxer, shepherd, lab mix crazy, but we've learned to live with the barking. current/smile

However, this morning, I was taking him for a walk when a group of bicyclists came through. We have a rule with him that whenever a car, motorcycle or bike drives up, he sits and waits for them to go past him. Cars and motorcycles, he's getting (he's a rescue, so a little rule-delayed), but bicyclists are still a challenge. However, once I see or hear someone, I immediately take him to the side of the road and won't let him continue our walk until he sits and calms down. Unfortunately, there are no sidewalks on this road.

This morning, four riders came through and he did well, a little agitated, but quieted down enough to continue walking. However, a few minutes later, a separate group also rode up, bringing the total number to around 10-12. The dog was freaking out and I didn't have much warning nor space, so we did the best we could. Yes, he barked, but I had him well under control and there was enough room for both parties. However, a few members of the second group (all towards the back) decided to kick out their legs in our direction, causing my dog to jump up and try to chase after them. It appeared they were deliberately kicking out at us, doing what they could to agitate the dog. I did hear one person (after they both finished laughing at our predicament) ask his buddy if he was okay. Um, don't you think that  maybe NOT agitating a dog would have been a better  choice? Or having a modicum of care for the dog's handler?

If it helps you identify the group of which I speak, several (not all) were wearing red and white jerseys. Again, I'm not entirely sure if your group was riding on Powells Run this morning, so I'm reaching out to all of the bike clubs in the general area that had announced rides today with the request to share the road and keep dogs and handlers in mind, please. I would appreciate your help in spreading this message to your members. We would all love a safe and pleasant biking/ walking experience.

Thank you,
Julia Harris

Hi Ms. Harris,
I am very sorry to hear about your experience this morning. As a cyclist of 40 years and a dog owner for the same time (our last two dogs are also rescue dogs), I find the behavior of the cyclists you encountered today inexcusable. You should be angry as I am angry. Cyclists who behave badly when riding give us all a bad name and ultimately make cycling all the more dangerous for us.

Responsible cyclist never antagonize dogs even as a jest; there is enough tension between dogs and cyclists without trying to look for trouble. All cyclists have had dogs chase them; usually a forceful yell such as no or stop is all that is needed to stop them. Trying to kick them is a last resort and is very dangerous to the cyclist and the dog--even it is meant to be a joke.

There was a BBC ride this morning that was on the roads you mentioned. I have forwarded your email to the ride leader asking him if he was aware of this situation. There are thousands of cyclists riding in the Baltimore area; the BBC has about a thousand members with about 25% who actively ride every weekend. I hope it was none of my club members who behaved so badly.

I will post your email on our club website whether or not it was BBC members who were the ones. For me it is a strong statement about cyclists cycling responsibly. If we expect motorists and pedestrians to treat us with respect, then we need to ride our bikes with respect towards them when we ride on the road.

When I hear from the ride leader, I will pass on his reply to you.

Edward H. Cahill III M.D.
BBC President

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Re: Cyclists behaving badly

Ed Cahill wrote:

I did hear one person (after they both finished laughing at our predicament) ask his buddy if he was okay.

I can't tell from the woman's description whether this dog was on a lease.

It sounds like the cyclists did NOTHING to agitate the dog other than ride by on their bikes.  Hence they were not behaving badly. They were just cycling. The dog was entirely the problem.

And it sounds like they were kicking at the dog in self defense.  How close was that dog to the cyclists? 

My guess is that this self-agitating dog will eventually bite a cyclist and the police will be brought into the picture.

I think you should be talking to the woman about controlling her dog better not searching out "badly behaved" cyclists.

(I agree that kicking out at a dog is a dangerous maneuver: you would do better to just let the dog bite you than crash on the hard road.)

Ed Hopkins
ed.hopkins@verizon.net

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Re: Cyclists behaving badly

I sent this email to Ms Harris:

Hi Ms Harris

Below are two responses to your email concerning yesterday's episode.
The first is from Carl Boyd who led a ride in your area:
Ed,

1)Our route did not go on Powells run rd. 2) We only had a total of 8 riders, a group of 5 in front,1 riding solo in the middle & myself riding a bit off the back with the slowest member.3)None of us were wearing red & white jerseys. Lastly & most importantly, with the exception of 1 rider. I know everyone well enough to assure you & Ms. Harris that they / we would never kick @ a dog unless we were in imminent danger of being bitten.

Carl
ps, I did a brief search & found that there is a Sat. 8 am group ride from C-ville bikes in Catonsville that rides on Powells run rd.!
http://app.strava.com/routes/4073


The second letter questions whether or not you had control of the dog and therefore the cyclists felt under attack from your dog. If they were not tormenting your dog but felt as though the dog would attack them, there is some justification for their response (even if it is a stupid response).
I will say that my wife and I have had the same problem with our current rescue dog (a Poodle mix) and after training lessons failed to change her behavior, have had to resort to a muzzle when walking Maggie in our neighborhood.

I can't tell from the woman's description whether this dog was on a lease.

It sounds like the cyclists did NOTHING to agitate the dog other than ride by on their bikes.  Hence they were not behaving badly. They were just cycling. The dog was entirely the problem.

And it sounds like they were kicking at the dog in self defense.  How close was that dog to the cyclists? 

My guess is that this self-agitating dog will eventually bite a cyclist and the police will be brought into the picture.

I think you should be talking to the woman about controlling her dog better not searching out "badly behaved" cyclists.

(I agree that kicking out at a dog is a dangerous maneuver: you would do better to just let the dog bite you than crash on the hard road.)
Ed Hopkins
ed.hopkins@verizon.net


Edward H Cahill III M.D.
President BBC

Ms Harris has not responded to any emails to date. I do not who was at fault in this episode; what I do know is that Ms Harris thinks some cyclists are at fault. In my experience, when it comes to dog owners walking their dog or even worse horse owners hauling their horse, they will always be threatened by road cyclists. I try to give them a wide a berth as I can.

Ed





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Re: Cyclists behaving badly

Hi Ed,
Just to add to Carl's note, his hosted ride I was on, simerly split at that point into a group of four, me dangling off the back and then another group of four behind went up North from EFS on Dogwood,Davis, Granite, Marriottesville crossing Liberty and to Deer Park and away around the reservoir though I've been on Powells Run before and it is a very nice (though somewhat sketchy) route.

Sounds like BOTH the dog was lunging at the cyclists from WAY too close AND that the cyclists perhaps overreacted kicking at the dog.  Ed H. is correct, we don't know if the unruly and as-yet untrained dog was on a leash or not which is a critical part of the issue.

BTW, on Thursday we had a new dog problem on our Glenelg Gang ride with an older, small, Beagle mix chasing all three groups up the very steep part of West Watersville leasing up to Old Frederick.  Yelling NO repeatedly did keep him from coming too close and he generally seemed to be just running around in the road "warning" us by barking but with all the problems we had for years down before that at the RR tracks EVERY Tues-Thurs, it is potentially an issue again in that area. 

As I'm sure you know, there is a local racing group/team that sports red/white/black jerseys so perhaps they may want to weigh in if they were riding up there on Saturday.
Stuart

~too much of anything is just enough for me. Pete Townshend

Stuart Lamb
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Re: Cyclists behaving badly

I rode with Gary Kelly's Emory Church ride today (Sunday).  We passed at least six dogs and walkers.  The dogs were all well behaved and ignored the riders, even as the riders noted that there were bicycles approaching and the cyclists called out hello's to the dog walkers.

It was a pleasure to share the road and have neither party (cyclist, dog owner, and dogs) feel threatened.

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Re: Cyclists behaving badly

It is very important to know whether the dog in question was leashed. Loose dogs are a menace to cyclists, walkers, and small animals, as well as to drivers who must swerve to avoid them when they run into the road.

Janet L. Goldstein, BBC Forums Moderator
goldstein.j.mail@gmail.com

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Re: Cyclists behaving badly

I received this reply to my emails to Ms Harris.

Thanks so much for the information, Mr. Cahill. I’m glad to be assured that your group was not involved in the incident yesterday. I appreciate the follow up and thanks to Mr. Boyd for the lead.   

In regards to the second letter, let me assure you that I am a responsible pet parent who always has my dog on a leash when we are walking. We don’t let him out of the house without a leash and at least one member of the family keeping an eye on him. There are too many deer, rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife in the neighborhood to let him loose. My dog was upset yesterday, but I was attempting to calm him when the riders kicked out unprovoked. There were several feet between us and the group. I am offended by the insinuations of your member that my dog and I were at fault for the actions of strangers who were behaving both poorly and, frankly, stupidly. Please let me remind you that yours is not the only group I reached out to with a good-faith reminder for riders to be aware and take care for the people and pets who live in the neighborhoods they pass through. I have received positive and productive responses from most of the groups in regards to my concern. I hope the message was well-received by the many people who ride with you.

I will refrain from further projections (something Mr. Hopkins, too, would be well-served to remember).

Best,
Julia Harris

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Re: Cyclists behaving badly

"If it helps you identify the group of which I speak, several (not all) were wearing red and white jerseys. Again, I'm not entirely sure if your group was riding on Powells Run this morning, so I'm reaching out to all of the bike clubs in the general area that had announced rides today with the request to share the road and keep dogs and handlers in mind, please. I would appreciate your help in spreading this message to your members. We would all love a safe and pleasant biking/ walking experience. "

I believe the AFC bike group that leaves at 8:00 on Saturday from the Hub/C'ville bike shop may be the group that Ms. Harris is referring to. Powell's Run Rd. is on its bike route. It's unfortunate that 1 or 2 riders of that group may have behaved in such a manner. Maybe this incident should be bought to the attention of the shop's owner.
IMHO,
Mike Harris (no relation)

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Re: Cyclists behaving badly

President Ed,   Excellent letter.   The "club" has a responsibility to be publicly observed representatives.  Having not been there, the best response was to respond diplomatically. We all know not every cyclist is always an angel.  The hardest thing we do is communicating and extending an olive branch is far more mature than bullying, being confrontational or accusative.  Many folks will read and agree with this, but will never respond.  The confrontationists will be quick to put fingers to the keyboard, when what is required is time to grow.  We all have much to learn in regard to communicating and advancing a world of peacefulness.  The second letter was insulting. Pity. The first letter was so good.  Thank you for all you do as our BBC President.  Past President, Georgia

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