Please. Somebody Change the Dog Park Before Someone Gets Hurt

Ok. I wrote about this months ago, but nothing has changed so I’m writing about it again. This design, of this new exit to the dog park onto the White Rock Lake Trail, is an absolute disaster waiting to happen.

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Let me tell you exactly what is going to happen. A cyclist is going to hit a dog or a person, because the dogs and the people exiting the park will still be gathering themselves together at the moment they enounter cyclists on the trail.

Or, on beautiful, sunny days, there will be a traffic jam of dogs and people that’ll extend out on to the trail…again, causing accidents between trail users and dog owners.

People will blame the cyclist. Others might blame the dog owner. Heck, somebody might even blame the dog.

But as a dog owner and cyclist, however, I can say unequivocally: the blame will rest squarely on the DESIGN.

THIS IS A TERRIBLE DESIGN.

It seems to me that there are easy fixes for this.

First, put a fence up between the existing trail, and the newly poured concrete…make it about as long as the newly poured concrete is now. The fence can be the same color and design as the dog park fence.
This will prevent dogs and their owners from mindlessly walking out on to the trail.
I believe the designers of the dog park assume that this is what will happen in the circular “holding area.”
Trust me. It won’t I’ve seen how this works at other dog parks. (North Dallas, for example…) People will still not have control of their dogs once they exit. Dogs and people will casually and innocently walk onto the trail without a dividing fence.

Second, extend the new concrete out to either side of this new fence, so that there is a small pathway…the size of the trail (one half of the trail, not the whole thing…) so that dog owners realize that they are continuing on to an active trail…not just at some place where you are free to stand around with your dog.

Third, WARNING SIGNS. Big ones. Warning signs facing the dog park…urging owners to exercise caution when entering the trail. Warning signs on the TRAIL, urging cyclists to watch carefully. (Remember: cyclists are accustomed to riding this trail, and there not being an entrance here…this is new…)

My fear is that somebody will just put up warning signs. That won’t be enough. Without a physical barrier that dog owners must heed, the signs will be read, far too often, after the fact.

Please, please…somebody fix this.

Somebody’s gonna get hurt. Maybe quite seriously.

And when I happens, trust me, in wont be gloating. I’ll be crying.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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