A devastated pensioner is calling for speeding cyclists who race on a path to face tougher measures after his beloved dog lost a leg when it was struck by a bike.
Bob Hutchinson was left heartbroken when his 11-year-old Springer Spaniel, Buddy, was critically injured when a cyclists collided with him.
The pet pooch suffered a badly crushed ankle and two weeks ago had to have his leg amputated.
Now, owner Bob revealed his “beautiful” dog is adapting well to a new life on three legs, however, he now quickly gets tired.
The 74-year-old has been left furious with the accident that happened on a multi-user path shared by dog walkers, families and mums with prams.
Bob, from Bangor, Gwynedd, said action is required before someone is seriously hurt on a route that is being “terrorised” by high-speed cyclists, reports North Wales Live.
After posting a photo of Buddy on Facebook, his comments sparked a huge debate about the rights of cyclists and the dangers they potentially pose to pedestrians and other road users.
Buddy was struck by a cyclist just over two weeks ago as his owner strolled out with two friends and three other dogs.
“He was just ahead of me, slightly to my right, when the cyclist zoomed past me,” said Bob, 74, who lives on the Maesgeirchen estate next to the path.
“We had no idea he was coming. When he hit Buddy, the dog yelped loudly.
“The cyclist dismounted and there was an altercation – he claimed he’d rung his bell, but none of us heard it.”
Buddy was able to limp home with Bob, a retired driver of plant machinery. Two days later, Buddy was again yelping in pain, unable to put weight on his damaged leg.
After a trip to the vets, an x-ray revealed a lower leg fracture and Bob was given three options – to have Buddy put down, to have an operation or to remove his leg.
“They told me the operation would have to take place elsewhere and it might not work,” said Bob.
“I was worried about long-term problems and I didn’t want him to suffer, so I went for amputation.
“When the limb was removed, the vet said the ankle joint was so badly shattered, an operation wouldn’t have succeeded anyway.”
As Buddy convalesced, Bob turned his attention to the path where the accident happened.
The route forms the start of the Ogwen Trail which, in recent years, has become increasingly popular with cyclists, forming part of the National Cycle Network’s Route 82.
Running from Bangor dock out past Bethesda to Llyn Ogwen, it has been labeled one of the finest cycle trails in North Wales.
However Bob has been using the path regularly since 1971 after it was reclaimed from a former slate rail track that ran from Penrhyn Quarry to Bangor docks.
Bob’s complains some cyclists feel they take precedence on the path, especially since it was tarmacked some 20 years ago.
“For many walkers, it’s become a frightening experience,” he said.
“A majority of cyclists are courteous but some are incredibly arrogant.
“From Glasinfryn to Bangor Dock it’s all downhill all the way and on some sections, cyclists can reach speeds of 30-40mph.
“Some of them use it as a race track. It’s crazy and it’s frightening.
If they’re going at the speed, you’ve no time to react and often you won’t even hear them coming.
“It’s beautiful around here, with woods at the side of the path, but if children run out when a cyclist is coming, there could be a really serious accident.”
Bob has previously complained to Gwynedd Council about the path, which is open to horse riders as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
He would like to see a bylaw adopted compelling cyclists to have insurance and some form of identification. He now plans to contact his MP.
“When these cyclists zoom pass you, before you know it they have gone,” he said.
“Unless they’re local, there’s no way you’ll ever find out who they are.”
Bob’s moving Facebook post prompted hundreds of responses, many from people sharing similar stories on the Lon Ogwen path and others.
One woman told how she is too scared to use the path anymore after her three-year-old child was nearly “killed” by a cyclist.
A dog walker said she was knocked over by a cyclist on a multi-user path in Llanddulas, Conwy.
“No warning – the wind behind the cyclists – and bang……right into me as I went to pull my dog out of the way,” she said.
“The cyclist hit my left side and landed on top of me. Tyre marks remained on my leg for three-and-a-half weeks. Bruised and battered and aching for months.
“I hate walking anywhere near cycle routes now and feel quite scared when I have to.”
Promenade strollers have reported similar issues – a partially deaf pensioner aged 79, told how she is constantly being told to “get out of the effing way” on Penmaenmawr prom.
One person, from Old Colwyn, said speeding cyclists are also a problem on the Wales Coastal Path where the 5mph speed limit is regularly ignored by the “Lycra-clad majority”.
However some people stressed that out-of-control dogs were a menace to responsible path users and that culpability could fall both ways.
Buddy was off the lead at the time of the accident but Bob insists he was close by and under control.
Some cyclists have highlighted the unpredictability of dogs and children, noting the shared responsibility of pedestrians not to pose a danger to other users.
The updated Highway Code, which aims to promote active travel, includes a new “hierarchy of road users” designed to protect the most vulnerable users.
It applies to all road users from HGVs through to cyclists and horse riders to reduce the danger to pedestrians.
Bob said the same principles apply to multi-user paths. To help promote the concept, he believes additional signage would help: some warning signs already exist at entry points on Lon Ogwen path.
He doesn’t want cyclists to stop using the route but speed calming measures should be considered for the minority of cyclists who ride dangerously, he said.
“As my wife Cynthia is a wheelchair user, I like to take her out along the path,” he said.
“If she was hit by a cyclist, she could be killed.
“Sometimes we have motorbikes and even quad bikes on the path, but I worry less about them because you can hear them coming.
“Cyclists are required by law to have a bell but many don’t have one. Even if they do, you often can’t hear a bell if it’s windy.
“And if you’re hard of hearing or even deaf, there’s no way of knowing a cyclist is approaching from behind.
“Buddy has had a life-changing operation which could have been avoided with just a bit of concern and patience.”
Gwynedd Council was approached for a comment.
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