In my non-dog life, I do a lot of bicycling. In my dog-life, I spend a lot of time walking on multi-use trails. After I got surprised by a cyclist on Tuesday, I thought I would offer some tips from both sides.
–Your leash is a death trap. If your dog goes one way and you go the other, you will cause a nasty crash. Please make sure that you and your dog share the same idea about getting out of the way. If you see that a cyclist is about to hit your leash, drop it.
–A flexi line stretched across a trail is invisible from a bike. Cyclists may assume that your dog is off leash and attempt to ride between you. Alternatively, you may find that cyclists will come to a stop to avoid going between you and your off-leash dog. That’s why. Please try to keep your dog on the same side of the trail.
–If there is any chance that your dog will chase a biker, please find a different place to walk off leash. Herding-type dogs are especially bad to nip at cyclists’ feet and legs, and you really don’t want that. Also, the only thing a cyclist can do is sprint for their life, and you will not be able to keep up to catch your dog.
–Because of this stuff, especially points two and three, a cyclist may panic when they see your dog. Try to be sympathetic.
–In the same vein, it is considered good cycling form to call out about potential problems if you’re riding in a group. Don’t take it personally if you hear a line of cyclists calling out to each other about your dog.
–Don’t wear headphones. I know the multi-use trail seems so safe compared to walking on roads, but you need to be able to hear.
–It is very difficult to completely stop a bike that is going downhill. If you’re walking up hill, keep a good eye out for oncoming traffic. If you’re going downhill, be especially aware of anything coming up behind you.
–Most importantly, get your dog out of the way. Because some dogs chase/nip/lunge/jump/bark, a cyclist will be very hesitant to pass a dog who is on a loose line right in the middle of the trail. Shorten your leash and/or move to the edge.
–Please call out or ring your bell. Dogs and their gear can easily generate enough noise to drown out a quiet bike. Keep in mind that dog walkers may not know the cycling shorthand we use passing each other.
–Dogs don’t have a great sense of their body being attached to a leash. If you come up on them from the rear, they’re likely to go the opposite direction of their person. See #1.
–Be extremely cautious if you’re going downhill on a narrow path. Even the best intentioned dog-walker can only move their dog so quickly.
–Give a dog as much room as possible. It’s just good manners. (Which, I can tell from the way you bike, some of you are seriously lacking.)
–Avoid riding between a dog and their person. Not only are you likely to have a bad leash-related crash, you also impede the person’s ability to control an off-leash dog.
–Never reach for a dog while you’re on your bike, even if you’re partially dismounted. Friendly dogs can still be freaked out by your bike, or by the bike–>person transition.