Dogs run amok | Canterbury News | Local News in Canterbury.
This article was published in the Monday 27th February 2012 edition of the News Advertiser. I wrote to the reporter, Anna Turner, today because the article encourages you to “Have your say” at the end but only encourages submissions from those who have had problems with dogs (not cyclists) on the shared path.
Dear Ms Turner,
For the record, the pathway from Northlands Shopping Centre to Mona Vale is not a cycleway – it is a shared corridor for use by cyclists, pedestrians and dog walkers. As a shared space, it is essential that all users are polite, respectful and allow safe passage to other users. It is unfortunately true that some dog walkers do not have their dogs under effective control (which can be on lead or off lead, if the dog is suitably trained). To encourage responsible dog ownership, I favour a system where the offending dog owner is required to attend dog training (rather than a spot fine). This would be a similar system to when drink drivers are required to attend alcohol education.
The pathway also needs a monitored speed limit for cyclists and a requirement for them to ring a bell or sound a horn when they are approaching pedestrians/dog walkers from behind. You cannot hear a cyclist coming up behind you and they speed around you frightening both you and your dog (even a dog under effective control will respond if they are suddenly scared or threatened). The cyclists using this pathway often use it as a speedway to get them from Point A to Point B and show little regard for anyone on foot (regardless of whether they have a dog or not).
And what can we learn from these types of conflicts? The need for better urban design. The proposed Otakaro green space along the Avon River presents us with an excellent opportunity to design an open green space for cyclists and dog owners plus other walkers who want to be dog-free in a seamless design. There are examples from overseas about such design. Sadly, when an overseas expert on dog-friendly design visited the city last year, not a single community board or city council representative attended his public talk.
Your newspaper would serve our community better by investigating issues more thoroughly and reporting them in a balanced way rather than going for the inflammatory headline. Please contact me if you’d like more information about urban design, responsible dog ownership and other issues facing dog owners.
I then got this reply from Ms Turner:
If you read the story it says several times that this is a shared cycleway/walkway. You’ll also see that Mr Talbot acknowledges that some cyclists should monitor their behaviour as well.
And then I wrote back to say:
First impressions count. The headline on the front page is “Dogs run amok” and the headline on page 3 is “Dogs running rampant on narrow cycleway” (not narrow shared path)
My point is that you should encourage submissions about cyclists as well as dogs and take some time to investigate the issues of better urban planning so that all users can peacefully co-exist .
And her final reply said:
I’ll pass on your comments to the subeditors who write the headlines, I have no part in that.
Thanks for your input
Is this a case of buck passing? It sounds like it to me. How do we get our journalists to be more receptive to issues facing urban dog owners – that we need to encourage responsible ownership but at the same time provide facilities for them?
Are speeding cyclists not newsworthy?