letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor – “Walking” Dogs Via Bicycles Is Dangerous


i saw a young woman riding a bike with a dog on a leash. The leash was wrapped around her wrist and the handlebars. I know of three people who had accidents doing the same thing.

My 9th grade teacher had a phrase—“A word to the wise is sufficient”

From my Bedroom Balcony

Est La Vida

It’s morning: The Sutro tower is emerging from its blanket of fog. Across the street a floor below my little balcony, a slender young blonde woman is being pulled along by a big black Labrador, his leash wrapped around her right wrist. The woman’s eyes are fixed on the cell phone she fingers in her left hand. The dog stops short, she stumbles, the dog growls, and lunges toward a bicycle coming up the street, slightly behind and to the right of the them. The man on the oncoming bicycle looks up from the cell phone in his left hand, fumbles frantically with the leash wrapped around his right wrist as the tan Shepherd on the other end of that leash rushes around the front of the bike to meet the attacking Labrador.

Barks, shouts, screams; the man has one foot on the ground, the other on the bike frame, still holding on to both his cell phone and the right handlebar, the Shepherd pulls both him and the bicycle toward the onrushing Lab, a BMW whips around the corner at Fifth Avenue, misses the man on the ground by inches. The driver ignores the stop sign at Fourth Avenue narrowly avoiding a UPS truck entering the intersection and speeds on down Cornwall Street.

Below my balcony an elegantly dressed gray haired woman stops, smiles, reins in a small poodle, whips out a cell phone out of her purse and takes pictures of the scene.

The man on the street, manages to pull his left leg off the bike and grabs the seat He pulls back hard. Both the blonde and the bicyclist wrestle single handed with their respective dogs, cell phones still clutched tightly in their left hands. Finally, the man is able, to control his dog long enough to stand up his bicycle, he staggers on, the cell phone never leaves his hand. He crosses Fifth Avenue, gets about half way to Sixth Avenue, mounts the bicycle and rides away, still clicking on his cell phone, dog still attached to  bicycle handle.

Meanwhile the young woman has finally gained control of her dog by wrapping the leash around a tree trunk and leaning back with her weight on the taught leash. By this time the bicyclist is far enough away for her dog to relax a bit, she unwraps the leash from the tree, and walks on working her thumb and fingers rapidly on the phone still in her left hand.

The grey-haired woman slides her cell phone into her purse, pulls out a plastic bag, bends down and performs her civic function; cleaning up after her dog.

I shake my head, grin, close the door to my balcony and make the bed; it’s 8 a.m. on Cornwall Street, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue in San Francisco.

I know of two people who have been seriously injured by running dogs next to their bicycles. One who is still wearing a back brace after more than 20 years.

Irving Rothstein


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