PATH: Common sense is needed on all sides

I can certainly empathise with Bill Hutton’s reported experience of his dog being hit by a passing cyclist as I too have experienced something similar on the Eve Black Walkway.

This happened last summer as I was returning from work. A dog ran out of the dunes right in front of my bike, leaving me only enough reaction time to turn sharply into the rough. The dog wagged its tail and had a bit of a sniff before running off.

I ended up with a bloodied knee, a damaged brake and feeling a bit embarrassed.

The owner was very apologetic once he realised both I and his dog were fine. We laughed about it and went our separate ways.

If the dog had run out earlier, or I had not been travelling at a reasonable rate, it could have been worse. But as in Dr Hutton’s case it wasn’t worse. It’s called life, and accidents happen.

The Eve Black Walkway is a fantastic free resource to be enjoyed by all. My experience has not left me thinking that a “substantial” group of dog walkers let their dogs run riot. I think that Dr Hutton would need a much greater investigation into cycle-related dog injuries than simply what happened to him before he can be so dismissive of an alleged “substantial” group of cyclists.

His comments on cyclists’ equipment, dress and having a “powerful” lobby for their interest are simply inflammatory.

Cyclists are not required by law to take out insurance, but it might make sense for them to do so because they may be sued for negligence or need coverage if injured. Dog walkers are not required by law to have their dogs on a lead, unless the council makes a bye law, but owners may wish to exercise caution and call dogs to them when cyclists sound their bells on approach. It’s common sense on both sides.

There is no need for another cyclist vs. dog walker/pedestrian war in the paper. As a pedestrian and cycle user of the Eve Black Walkway, I pay attention to what is going on around me and take reasonable precautions. I still presume others do too.

And I would say to anyone who read Dr Hutton’s letter: come and use the Eve Black Walkway at your own leisure and enjoyment. Bring the dog, bring the kids, bring the bike.

Paul Walton

Whitley Bay