TOPEKA (KSNT) – A local cycling club issued an alarming warning Monday that women and children should stop using the Shunga and Landon trails, saying it’s unsafe after a member was attacked by a homeless person’s dog.

On June 15, 2023, Kim Teske, a member of the Kaw Valley Bicycle Club, was attacked by an off-leash dog. The Teske was able to escape from the dog and call 911 but had to wait for more than an hour for help to arrive. The bite led to an infection, multiple weeks of antibiotics and severe pain and swelling.

Luckily, after help from Helping Hands Humane Society, they found that the dog was vaccinated and later quarantined with the owner’s approval. The city issued the owner a citation, but that wasn’t enough for the Kaw Valley Bike Club.

“The situation has gotten a lot worse,” KVBC Vice President Lynn Cress said. “The concentration of encampments around the roundabout area has started to really build up. We don’t recommend anyone riding from the 21st Street and Western all the way through the roundabout to the underpass at 15th Street.”

Dangerous animals aren’t the only concern. Growing homeless encampments and trash like broken glass and nails have members scared to use the trails, especially when riding alone.
Shawnee County Parks and Rec says safety is its top priority.

“We do share the Kaw Valley Bicycle Clubs concern about safety in our trails,” Mike McLaughlin with Parks and Rec said. “We want them to be safe. But a lot of people don’t realize that a lot of land alongside or adjacent to the trails is not owned by the parks, not owned by the county. Some of it is owned by private businesses for example so that limits our authority to enforce.”

While this dog attack may have been an isolated incident, since January, Topeka Police say they’ve been called three times to investigate safety concerns along the trails. Thus lies the question… is biking along the trails safe?

“It’s been a couple years since we’ve even had an incident on the trail and that was a person who fell asleep on a park bench and left their bicycle and it disappeared while they were sleeping,” McLaughlin said. “So the trails have been fairly safe, but we do understand the concern of people seeing the homeless along. You know our own employees ride the trails and we see them as well.”

“It makes it a dangerous situation for everyone, including the people that live there,” Cress said. “This dog could of attacked a neighboring camper. It’s not just the dog, it’s the situation, it’s everything that goes with it. It’s just a horrible, horrible situation.”

As for Teske, she says change needs to happen so the trails can be safe for everyone to enjoy.

“There’s lots of people that walk, run ride their bikes, families, little kids,” Teske said. “We just need somebody to be patrolling the trails and making people accountable and making sure people are following the rules.”

McLaughlin tells 27 News that they would welcome to sit down with the KVBC’s leadership, talk about the concern and see what they can come up with together.