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Letters: Cyclists and dog owners in Richmond both bear responsibility for safety

A Richmond News reader agrees with dog trainer who said 'bike and dogs don't mix.'
Temporary barricades are being installed in Bark Park to address safety concerns.

Dear Editor,

Re: "'Bikes and dogs don't mix': Residents highlight safety concerns at Richmond dog park"

“It is the responsibility of leadership to work intelligently with what is given, and not waste time fantasizing about a world of flawless people and perfect choices.” When Marcus Aurelius quipped on leadership, he was himself a leader when the Roman Empire was in the midst of constant military conflict.

In response to the March 27 story “Bikes and dogs don’t mix,” allow me, likewise, to speak of responsibility in the ongoing saga of “Bark Park.”

Cyclists have the responsibility to follow the rules of the road when on the road and the rules of multi-use paths when on multi-use paths.

As president of Steveston Velo (Richmond’s only road cycling – and now gravel cycling – club) I can assure you we take safety very seriously.

All of our rides are led by Cycling B.C.-trained ride leaders and we conform to safe practices including signaling, visibility, communication and manageable group sizes. That said, we don’t live in “a world of flawless people and perfect choices.”

Cyclists of all stripes use roads and paths in the city.

Dog owners have the responsibility to keep their dogs leashed and under control on many of the multi-use paths across Richmond and, in the case of Bark Park and other off-leash parks in the city, simply under control.

Most dog owners (I am a dog owner myself) are responsible for their pets and follow the leash and control guidelines where they exist.

That said, we don’t live in “a world of flawless people and perfect choices.”

There are dogs commonly off leash on the West Dyke Trail and I have witnessed many occasions at Bark Park where cyclists have been charged by dogs whose owners have no control over them.

Our elected officials have, among other responsibilities, the responsibility to listen to the community and provide infrastructure that is sound and safe.

Of the three primary actors in this saga it seems as though our elected officials are the ones we would expect to be closer to “flawless people” making “perfect choices.”

While they aren’t flawless and this wouldn’t be the perfect solution, it is increasingly apparent that Karen Yamada – the professional dog walker quoted in the article – had it right when she said “Bikes and dogs do not mix,” and placed the blame at the feet of the city.

Cyclists aren’t going anywhere. Dogs need a place to romp and roam.

The city must take its responsibility seriously and separate this section. Remember, “It is the responsibility of leadership to work intelligently with what is given.”

While I have no doubt council members are intelligent, I would ask that they exercise awareness and pragmatism and, above all, a concern for community safety when deciding the future of Bark Park.

Martin Hauck

President, Steveston Velo Society

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