Bicyclists in New Jersey face a number of risks when they ride. In addition to having a higher risk of suffering injuries in bicycle accidents, cyclists also face dangers from aggressive dogs along their routes. Cyclists can take a few precautions when they encounter an aggressive dog to reduce the chances that it will attack and to prevent serious injuries if it does.
Why dogs attack cyclists
Dogs have a predatory instinct since they descended from wild animals. When they see something move quickly across their visual field, they instinctively want to run and chase it. Dogs might view passing cyclists as prey that they want to attack and bite. Each year, an estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S., and 850,000 of them require medical treatment.
How to handle aggressive dogs
When people are riding their bikes, they should watch for loose dogs that might want to attack them. If a dog starts chasing a cyclist, the cyclist should try to outpace the dog on his or her bicycle. Installing an air horn on the bicycle might also help to distract and scare the dog away from the bicycle. Yelling at the dog in a firm, commanding voice might also encourage the dog to run away. If the dog still will not stop, the cyclist should place his or her bicycle between the dog and his or her body. Giving the dog something to chew on might also keep it from biting the cyclist. If the dog attacks and knocks the cyclist to the ground, he or she should assume the fetal position and protect his or her head and face to minimize any personal injuries.
Aggressive dogs are a real threat to cyclists and pedestrians. New Jersey has a strict liability statute for dog owners when their dogs bite people in public or when they are lawfully present on private property. This means that a cyclist bitten by a dog has the right to pursue compensation for their losses from the dog’s owner.