TWO dog owners who said their pet was thrown six feet in the air after colliding with a bicycle in the New Forest have urged riders to slow down.
Cocker spaniel Willow was being walked by Jane and John McLean at Wilverley Inclosure on 3rd August at 6.15pm when the accident happened.
“The cyclist went straight over her back and was going so fast that Willow was thrown out and up by the wheel,” said Jane, from New Milton.
“She went flying. I was convinced she was dead, but I found her cowering and whimpering in the undergrowth. She was terrified.”
The couple, who also had their other dog Dolly with them, were making their way downhill along a gravel track when they became aware of two cyclists coming up behind them.
“We were near the bottom when we realised,” she said. “We called both dogs to us; they are both very well trained and came immediately and we had hold of their collar as the cyclists went past. They literally roared past they were going so fast.
“One of them shouted, ‘okay’ – which is the release command for a dog, so Willow got up. As she walked way we realised there was another cyclist coming.
“Willow was literally just feet away and I called her back, but the cyclist was going so fast he said later he did not even see her.
“My husband said he was going at least 25mph, if not faster.”
The cyclist fell off his bike and injured himself, and Jane said he was very apologetic he had hit Willow.
“I did actually feel sorry for him at the time,” she said. “His mates were shouting, ‘Come on let’s go!’, but he told them he wasn’t leaving until he knew the dog was okay.
“Having said that, he did not give us his name or contact details.”
Jane took 15-month-old Willow to a vets where she was treated for severe bruising.
“We have had to pay £200 to the vets,” she said. “She is now really scared of bikes. If she sees one she starts to shake and run away.
“What worries me is that it could have been a small child the cycle hit – what would have happened then? There is no doubt in my mind the cyclists were going too fast.
“I know they have a right to use the Forest, but I think they should be made to go slower. Otherwise a child or elderly person could end up being seriously hurt.”
A spokesperson for Forestry England’s local team said: “We provide a permitted waymarked route of gravel tracks to explore the New Forest on two wheels.
“There’s a long-established New Forest cycling code, which aims to make sure cyclists and other users can enjoy this special place in harmony.
“Mutual respect and courtesy are essential to enable those with different interests to enjoy the Forest together.”
According to the cycling code of conduct for the New Forest, there is a speed limit of 15mph.
Cyclists are also encouraged to keep to the marked tracks, slow down and call out a warning or sound their bells when approaching other Forest users, and allow them plenty of room.
They should take extra care when passing horse riders and should not “startle” ponies, cattle, or other wildlife.
For more information about the cycling code, go to www.forestryengland.uk/new-forest/cycling-the-new-forest.