A concerned Richmond resident has presented a petition to the City of Richmond, urging councillors to address safety concerns at an off-leash dog park.
Jerome Dickey, a community advocate who ran for city council in the most recent municipal election, collected more than 300 signatures for his petition calling for the physical separation of people and dogs from cyclists at Bark Park Bark Park at No. 3 and Dyke roads.
Dickey said there are two parallel gravel paths along the dyke that run through the off-leash dog park.
While the north path is for cyclists, Dickey said he regularly sees people ride their bikes on the south one, which is directly on the dyke and meant for pedestrians.
“Most bikers are pretty good…They don’t realize, so we point (it) out to them and a lot of them just go onto the other path,” said Dickey, adding that the signage directing cyclists to the north path is “very poor” and confusing.
Dickey said he started raising the issue about six months ago, but originally did not think it was a larger problem until he heard more stories about the busy location.
“The more I talk to people, the more I (hear) from others saying, ‘I was walking through (and) almost got hit by a bike,’ or ‘I asked somebody to slow down (and) they yelled at me or kicked at my dog,’” he said.
“There’s been a few more serious ones where people have (been) wiped out on their bikes, and there’s been verbal, physical abuse around some of this, so that got me thinking this is bigger and more serious than one or two incidents.”
Someone is going to seriously hurt: Richmond resident
Dickey started the petition in July, because he said he could not stand back until a person or dog gets seriously hurt or killed.
The petition calls on the mayor and city council to consider three options for improving the park’s safety: creating a new bike path about 10 ft. north of the current one with a physical barrier to its south, creating a barrier along the middle of the current one or installing gates to slow cyclists and/or have them get off their bikes.
Since Dickey presented the petition at city hall, he said city staff expressed that they will “undertake a public consultation” in the near future, which could be between the end of this year and early 2024.
“I imagine it’ll be an online survey, maybe a couple open house events in the park, they indicated, and then they’ll gather feedback and based on that, consider what changes might be feasible.”
But Dickey said improving signage, adding concrete barriers at the entrance of the walking path and fencing off the dog park are temporary measures the city should consider in the meantime.