By Jeff Petersen, The Observer October 21, 2010 12:49 pm

The ferocious dog was chasing my bike down the street, a small piece of which I own through paying taxes.

I pedaled faster.

The salivating monster continued gaining on me. Adrenaline coursed through me. The hair on the back of my neck rose. I would have feared for my life except the dog was the size of a teapot — a boiling teapot.

Having survived that episode, I reflected on the responsibilities of dog owners.

I also reflected on the responsibilities of bicyclists — and how as a group we could behave a lot better.

Before a gang of hostile, tattooed bicycle fanatics also begins chasing me down the street, let me be clear.

Most bicyclists seem to have conveniently forgotten that it is our obligation to follow the rules of the road. These scofflaws roll through stop signs. Sometimes they even ignore traffic lights. Some bicyclists even ride on sidewalks, making it nearly impossible for cars to sideswipe them.

And wear helmets? Many bicyclists would rather watch a marathon of political attack ads describing the Dobermans soon headed for Washington, D.C.

And most dog owners have their animals, whether Heinz 57 mongrels or show dogs, properly contained behind concertina wire fences. Just kidding. But at least their dogs are not combing the street looking to earn a Canine Darwin Award.

That said, however, my sympathies are with bicyclists who encounter loose dogs on our streets and roads.

I love bicycling.

And I’ve lived in a household of seven dogs. Dogs like to protect “their territory,” which may or may not extend into the next county. What’s more, to a dog a bicycle looks as inviting as an ice cream wagon does to a little kid.

I know dogs are man’s best and sometimes only friend.

I also know that dogs are capable of destroying a house singlepawedly. So what hope, pray tell, does a bicyclist riding by on the street have if the dog decides to peel the paint off his leg?

Anybody riding bicycle is well aware that Oregon is fourth in the nation per capita in dog ownership, behind Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. That’s why we take our bicycling vacations in Iowa.

I know bicyclists should follow the Rules of the Road, or at least the ones with which we agree.

It’s time for a change. Bicyclists need to ride more responsibly. Dog owners need to know where their charges are at all times — even if the dog is the size of a boiling teapot.

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