Dog Crossing

I fell off my bike yesterday. A big white Samoyed leaped into my path suddenly in pursuit of another dog. I hit the dog, barely, and jettisoned off my bike onto the gravel path. I lay there stunned for a moment or two. The dog’s owner came to help me up and apologized. My hands and legs were scraped, and I was shaken up, but other than that, everything seemed to be in working order. Well, except for the fact that I probably undid everything my chiropractor adjusted the day before to fix a back problem. The dog was not hurt and didn’t even attempt to lick my wounds.

I was cycling on the bike path along the west side beaches. It’s a shared path and you always have to be on guard for small children, dogs and inattentive pedestrians carrying large coolers. No one pays attention to the signs that direct cyclists to stay left and pedestrians to keep right, especially dogs. But today was particularly chaotic. The first real beach day of the summer. All that heat and light. People were sun stunned.

The accident happened at the last stretch of beach before the path ends and you have to cut up to the roadway and head up the hill to UBC. It’s a dog park. I saw the other dog, standing in the middle of the pedestrian path, the pathways split at that section. I saw the Samoyed too out of the corner of my eye, I was watching him watching the other dog, I just didn’t think he’d leap in front of me. Fortunately I wasn’t going very fast when I braked.

The only other time I have fallen off my bike was on the Stanley Park seawall. Another cyclist carelessly bumped me on a very crowded stretch. He saw me fall, but didn’t even bother to stop to see if I was okay. That was when I decided the seawall was too dangerous and switched to the quieter route up to UBC. I love dogs and I’m all for dog parks, but in this case, the interface with a cycling path seems ill-advised.

There is already restoration happening at Jericho Beach and the city is now talking about extending the sea wall between Kits Beach and Jericho, thanks to a funding offer from a generous philanthropist. But perhaps the money would be better spent on upgrading the existing pathways to create separated lanes and a rethink about how off-leash areas can be safely integrated. Is there a dog equivalent to a cattle guard?

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