Dogs: They're running amok in Central Park, and cyclists are getting hurt! If you think it's a joke, just talk to 51-year-old Nancy Chilton, who was biking in the park in July 2010 when a dog darted out in front of her. The two species collided, and Chilton was catapulted over the handle bars. She was wearing a helmet, but the accident still hurt her head, and doctors had to remove part of her skull. (She also fractured her pelvis, spine and sustained permanent hearing damage.) "I wouldn't have survived," she tells the Wall Street Journal. It's unclear if the dog made it, but we're guessing it stayed at the scene and was not charged.
So, as if biking in Central Park wasn't complicated enough these days—what with cops issuing speeding tickets to cyclists and busting them for rolling through red lights at empty intersections—now cyclists have Marmaduke panting down their necks. Dogs are allowed to run free in the park during designated hours, including between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., when the park drive is teeming with aggro cyclists and joggers. Yet there's no rule prohibiting dog owners from letting their pets run free on the road, and there are inevitably collisions several times a year.
Chilton is suing the city and the Parks Department, alleging that they failed to create safe off-leash laws; she hopes to pressure the city into restricting areas where dogs may run free, as is done in Prospect Park, where there are three off-leash zones. The Central Park Conservancy seems open to the idea of prohibiting unleashed dogs from running around on the road—in fact, a spokesman says, "I'm not sure why we did not include the park drive." So enjoy your freedom now, dogs! They cyclists are coming to take it away, just like they do everywhere else in this town!