Anyone who has bicycled on Central New York’s beautiful country roads, as I have, knows about the dangerous dogs lurking out there in the most pristine areas. And many of us have ended up in a ditch, or on the pavement, bloodied or with puncture wounds, because of it. Some of us have even been seriously injured and I (in my capacity as Central New York dog attack lawyer!) have been honored to represent them against the dog owner. Unfortunately, run-ins with dogs are part of cycling in the Central New York countryside.
As a Central New York personal injury lawyer and cyclist who has handled New York dog-on-bike cases, I have come to the conclusion that there are three main dangers in every dog-on-cyclist encounter: (1) the dog can bite you; (2) the dog can get caught up in your spokes and cause you to fall; and (3) the dog can divert your attention away from careful riding, and thus cause you to get hit by a car or fall from your bike. This last danger is the most serious one, but the one most cyclists overlook.
There is no universal agreement among cyclists about how to deal with a belligerent dog hovering close to foot or wheel. Here are the main categories of advice riders will give you: (1) ignore the pooch and keep riding as fast as you can; (2) spray the killer with your water bottle (the shock of the cold water will stop him dead in his tracks); (3) carry a can of “mace for dogs” with you and really teach the dog a lesson; (4) unclip the closest foot and kick him hard; (5) grab your bike pump and swing it at him, at least threateningly, if not to kill (5) if he is really close and might get caught up in your bike, slow down and, if necessary, get off your bike, put the bike between you and the dog to protect yourself, and then slowly talk your way out of the situation.
My modus operandi is a combination of (1) and (2). I ignore him, and try to talk him down, unless I really feel he is going after my foot or my wheel, and then I start spraying him with water. I have toyed with the idea of getting some dog mace, but then I realize it would only be for revenge, not self-defense.
Spraying the dog with anything at all may be a mistake. I have to admit, when I grab that water bottle, and am concentrating on spraying the dog while steering with one hand, I have come close to losing control of my bike and falling or veering into the other lane. In my worst dreams, I see myself crashing to the pavement, and then the dog locks his foaming jaw onto my bloody body parts and makes a cruel lunch of me. Or I see myself and the dog drifting over into the oncoming lane of traffic and — splat — the dog and I become a harmonious, twisted hood ornament.
As for number (4), I have never tried kicking the aggressor. Sticking my foot out toward a frothing canine mouth bejeweled with pointy teeth is not my idea of smart cycling. First, you can’t pedal without that foot, so you can’t make a fast getaway. Second, the bitch (or son of a bitch as the case may be) might get lucky, latch onto my toes, and gnarl his way up my leg.
As for number (5), the last thing I want to do is dismount and confront a barking, growling, angry dog on his territory. I could be stuck there for hours, pacing around with nothing but a bike between me and an animal that wants me for lunch.
If any of my readers think they have “the” solution to the biker-on-dog confrontation, let me know!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.