UK

London Cyclists Are 'Crashing Into More Blind People And Their Guide Dogs'

27/08/2014 15:42 BST | Updated 28/08/2014 09:59 BST

London cyclists are crashing into more blind people and their guide dogs, according to a new study.

The Guide Dogs, a charity that helps blind and visually-impaired people, said they were facing an increasing number of calls on their helpline from London's guide dog owners to report being hit by bikes.

There are 41,060 people registered blind or partially sighted in London with just over 320 using guide dogs in the city.

In a survey conducted by the charity, of 33 guide dog owners in London who responded, 14 said they had been involved in a collision and 25 said they had been involved in a "near miss" with cyclists on pavements or jumping red lights.

guide dogs

London's Cyclists Are Hitting Guide Dogs

Rob Harris from Guide Dogs said some visually impaired people were "fearful" about leaving their homes as a result, a trend he described as "worrying".

Dave Kent, 54, whose guide dog is called Quince, told the Evening Standard that thoughtless cyclists could be "absolutely terrifying" for the visually impaired.

“To feel the wind of a cyclist passing you or the ding dinging of their bell for you to move out of the way can be absolutely terrifying," he said.

Guide dog owner Deborah Persaud from Islington said: “I was walking home from the tube station with my guide dog.

"I was halfway along the road when I was struck by a cyclist coming towards me on the pavement. My dress was torn, the contents of my handbag damaged and I was left with damage to my shoulder and hip.”

The charity has now launched a campaign, which is backed by Transport for London and the London Cycling Campaign, to educate cyclists.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport, said it is "vital" that "we all understand and respect the needs and welfare of our fellow road users."

The charity wants cyclists to follow five rules to keep blind pedestrians and their guide dogs safe:

  • Pay attention — look to see if the guide dog and owner, or person with a cane are waiting to cross. Remember that they can’t always see or hear you.
  • If you see the guide dog and owner or person with a cane waiting to cross, use your bell or call out to let them know you’re there.
  • If the guide dog and owner or cane user are already crossing the road, please stop and wait until they’ve reached the other side.
  • Do not cycle up behind or around the guide dog and owner, no matter how much space you think you’ve given them. The dog may be startled and get confused.
  • If you need to use the pavement for any reason, please dismount. Bumping off the kerb onto the road can scare and confuse the guide dog.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said a quarter of guide dogs working in London had been hit by a bike. The Guide Dogs charity has since said the information it provided was incorrect.