In our self-serving society the rhetoric is strong, but the proof is in actions, not words. We all believe we have the right to take precedence: I have a friend who works hard, pays taxes yet is aghast that he should have to wait behind others who don’t pay the tax he does - in some cases, none at all - in order to see that rarest of species in their natural habitat: the GP.

Sometimes gentlemen folk, myself included, play ball: on the bus or tube, despite the never-ending search for equality, women and children should, to my mind, take precedence for a seat. But do women per se come above as more needy than the aged? Sometimes all the boxes are ticked by an older pregnant lady who generally manages to milk the kindness of societal procedure.

And then we have cyclists. For full disclosure, I am one (as well as being a motorist) and we are one of the most misjudged societal groups. I often read comments online claiming cyclists ride three abreast (it's very rare they do, but I concur annoying and not an activity I am ever party to). They argue they should be insured (many are) or pay road tax, until it is pointed out that surely the 10-year-old riding to the local park should also be privy to the proposed new rules, when that argument is halted.

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But the biggest issue, from my experience as a cyclist, is dog walkers. Now, I am an animal lover, although I choose to enjoy my cat, Kai, and not a canine, for two simple reasons: one: I would retch if cleaning up its faeces and two: with the best will in the world, and despite promises to the contrary, I know it would be me walking a dog before and after work and I don’t get enough time to myself as it is anyhow.

Yet every time I go on a ride, I encounter similar issues: dog walkers who are firm in the belief that they, and their pooches, take precedence over walkers and cyclists and any other living creature and that’s what I truly don’t understand: the ‘why’ they seem to have that belief?

Sometimes I come within 100 yards of a walker who dramatically dives out the way of the path as if they were James Bond on the run from a foe, despite my pointing out in 40-plus years in the saddle I have never (as far as I am aware) hit a pedestrian and I have these things on my handlebars called ‘brakes’.

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But with dog walkers it’s a different level. They stop and sneer and then do one of two things: roll their eyes and pull their dogs toward them by the collar or ignore you until you grind to a halt as their dog sniffs something unpalatable. Eventually you ride off with no word of apology from the dog owner, just further sneers. More often than not, a cheery ‘good morning’ from yours truly is met with stone cold silence and death stares.

Rule 57 in the Highway Code is clear: ‘Dogs should be on a short lead when on a shared path with cyclists’. The law states that dogs should not be ‘dangerously’ out of control. It is deemed to be so if it injures someone or makes the person feel as if they may be injured, which brings us back to those moments we ride and must stop as the dog owner is letting the dog, out of control, wander across the shared track.

So, dog owners, much as I love your choice of pet - and I really do - expect further short shrift from the bald bomber the next time I am forced to make yet another unscheduled stop as you sneer at me, despite you being the one who is not abiding by the law. You may not like it, but the rules is the rules and behind this placid veneer of respectability lies a cycle freak whose bite may turn out to be just as bad as his bark.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher