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Guide Dogs says cyclists should dismount on pavement and warn pedestrians of approach

Note: as mentioned in the comments, Guide Dogs withdrew its claim that one in four London guide dogs had been hit. It has admitted supplying incorrect information, and many people have noted that its survey was deeply dodgy. We'll have more in depth analysis of this later.

A charity says that one in four blind people in London who get around the city with the aid of a guide dog say it has been involved in a collision with a cyclist – and seven in ten say they have suffered a near miss with people riding bikes on the pavement or ignoring red traffic lights.

Rob Harris from the charity said that collisions with cyclists or close misses left many blind people “fearful” of leaving their homes, which he described as “worrying,” reports BBC News.

Guide Dogs, which has its offices close to Euston Station, surveyed a fifth of the 320 residents of the city, home to more than 41,000 registered blind or partially sighted people, who use the working animals.

That produces a small sample size of around 64 people but the news has prompted a call from London Cycling Campaign (LCC) to people who use bikes in the city to ride responsibly and take care around all pedestrians.

LCC’s Charlie Lloyd said: "Any crash or a close pass which frightens or intimidates a pedestrian is unacceptable.

He added that it was "far worse when that person is blind, partially sighted or in any way less able than we are."

One guide dog owner, Deborah Persaud from Islington, said she was struck by a cyclist on the pavement as she walked home.

"My dress was torn, the contents of my handbag damaged and I was left with damage to my shoulder and hip," she said.

Guide Dogs says that cyclists should get off their bikes when using the pavement, be careful when approaching a guide dog from behind so as not to startle it, and call out or use a bell to alert pedestrians waiting to cross the road to their presence.

Except where permitted by law such as on shared-use paths, cycling on the footway is illegal, although Home Office guidance acknowledges that some people do so because of fear of traffic.

That guidance was reiterated by transport minister Robert Goodwill in January this year, who said that people could ride on the pavement provided they do so considerately, and that police officers need to exercise discretion in handing out fines.

Meanwhile, Guide Dogs Cymru is appealing for cyclists to join it for a fundraising ride next month along the Taff Trail – the Sustrans-managed shared use path used by both cyclists and people on foot.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

48 comments

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Duncann [476 posts] 1 year ago
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It would be deeply-depressing, if true (and one collision is one too many). The survey data is ropey though and this story has not picked up the BBC's correction:

"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 for the Blind Association has since said the information it provided was incorrect."

Still, not a bad reminder to be considerate of those around you and to consider their needs and vulnerabilities.

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leewalton [31 posts] 1 year ago
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It is worth noting that the respondents to this survey were invited to do so if they held strong views about cycling:

https://twitter.com/GuidedogsLondon/status/482112258756337664

So, the data used in this news article is bound to be skewed, making any findings unreliable at best.

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nuclear coffee [208 posts] 1 year ago
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I too would like to know where the original (retracted) figure came from - but whatever, whilst we all like to joke about blind peds (with ipods), anyone who hits an actual blind person sucks.

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Paul_C [428 posts] 1 year ago
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this is just those who actually responded to the survey:

"In a survey conducted by the association, 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.

A further five blind people without guide dogs said they had been in collisions with cyclists - out of 16 who responded to the survey.

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

only 10% of those with guide dogs actually bothered to respond. Can you seriously extrapolate that to the entire community? or was everybody else perfectly happy and didn't give a fig...

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levermonkey [659 posts] 1 year ago
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"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 for the Blind Association has since said the information it provided was incorrect."
Ok! So what are the true figures then?  45

And another thing.
Please look closely at the sign in the picture used to illustrate this story. It's a double negative. It says "You must only proceed past this point if you are riding a bicycle and/or have a dog with you, but the dog must not be a guide-dog."  21

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OldRidgeback [2593 posts] 1 year ago
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"Guide Dogs says cyclists should dismount on pavement and warn pedestrians of approach"

I know guide dogs are well trained but I didn't realise they could speak too. Perhaps cyclists should have someone with a red flag walking in front to warn all and sundry of the danger? I'm curious how many blind people have been hit by cars and perhaps this is the real story that isn't being reported? Cycling on the pavement isn't anti social as long as you're careful.

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ct [158 posts] 1 year ago
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Fair play if you want dogs and bikes to collide it makes real sense to have a bike ride down the Taff Trail....there are some righteously indignant sighted dog walkers there.

Oh and it isn't really fit for purpose - but I digress....

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andybwhite [248 posts] 1 year ago
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er... who did they actually ask? The blind person? " did you actually see the cyclist hit your dog?", or the dog? "woof, wood, grrr, cyclist?".
I really can't imagine either were reliable witnesses  35

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climber [72 posts] 1 year ago
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ct wrote:

Fair play if you want dogs and bikes to collide it makes real sense to have a bike ride down the Taff Trail....there are some righteously indignant sighted dog walkers there.

Oh and it isn't really fit for purpose - but I digress....

Is this meant to be funny? I think it's a great idea, and probably takes a lot of courage for the handlers and dogs to take part and invite cyclists along.

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ChairRDRF [306 posts] 1 year ago
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Although the survey is dodgy, there is an issue of blind and visually impaired people getting hard time from people who cycle on the pavement or who don't alert obviously blind people to their presence when the blind/visually impaired person is crossing the road.

There is also an issue of visually impaired (and even legally defined as blind) people continuing to drive to the detriment of all other road users. See http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/11/01/hi-viz-for-pedestrians-and-cyclists-and-th....

Is the blind lobby successfully campaigning against this? Rights and responsibilities and all that.

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Initialised [295 posts] 1 year ago
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If roads and especially junctions were designed with cycling in mind more cyclists might obey traffic lights. As things stand and unpopular as this elephant in the room may be, cyclists running red lights may improve their safety and smooth out traffic flow.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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If one in four guide dogs gets hit by a bikes then maybe they should get better guide dogs. It's not as if they can't hear them coming a lot sooner than a human.

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 1 year ago
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It's not a survey, it's a self-selected opinion poll. Worthless.

The only things that can be extrapolated from it is that Guide Dogs wants to generate some publicity and has chosen the option of picking a cheap target.

Funnily enough I had a survey call tonight and one of the questions was whether I would want to join some sort of lottery to support Guide Dogs. Assuming it is the same group they seem to be following an aggressive strategy to publicise and commercialise.

I said No Thanks.

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OldRidgeback [2593 posts] 1 year ago
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Some cyclists are irresponsible it's true. I certainly think it's wise to be careful around anyone visually impaired. But I'm not really convinced by the data in this survey.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1178 posts] 1 year ago
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I don't think such an extremely dodgy doggy survey is at all helpful. Just stirring up Daily Mail readers again for no purpose.

But pavement racers are knobheads, all the same.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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Let's take a quick poll, have any of you ever hit a guide dog? I haven't, nor have my family or anyone I know who rides a bike. That's significantly more people than took this survey, therefore my conclusion that no cyclist has ever hit a guide dog probably carries more weight.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1178 posts] 1 year ago
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levermonkey wrote:

Please look closely at the sign in the picture used to illustrate this story. It's a double negative. It says "You must only proceed past this point if you are riding a bicycle and/or have a dog with you, but the dog must not be a guide-dog."  21

Huh? Surely it says 'no bikes or dogs past this point, except guide dogs'. The only question is whether the exception applies to the bike ban or just the dog ban, i.e. are guidedogs on bikes allowed?

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Some Fella [890 posts] 1 year ago
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If this 'survey' shows anything (which it doesnt) it is, more than anything, the failure to provide decent infrastructure.
Again.

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daddyELVIS [655 posts] 1 year ago
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320 London residents have guide dogs - an absolute drop in the ocean - I wonder how many London cyclists have ever even cycled past a guide dog, let alone hit one!

This is story is total b@ll@cks!!

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CasperCCC [36 posts] 1 year ago
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Disappointing response on here. The survey might not be brilliantly designed, but it doesn't change the fact that a non-trivial number of people using guide dogs have been hit by a cyclist. That's shit. There are some selfish cyclists out there. There are too many cyclists who ride on the pavement.

True, there are a lot more cyclists who aren't selfish, but this "shoot the messenger" approach to the survey just feels like denial. It's still 14 people who said they'd been involved in a collision.

If drivers responded to a similar survey with a similar "yes but no..." approach ("it's only 14 cyclists who have been hit by cars, and it's a small sample size..."), people on here would rightly be up in arms.

Call out shit drivers. But call out shit cyclists too. Colliding with a guide dog user is definitively shit cycling.

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andybwhite [248 posts] 1 year ago
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Yep its an untrue story. The BBC have fessed up and posted a correction .
From the BBC website.....

"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 for the Blind Association has since said the information it provided was incorrect."

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rliu [36 posts] 1 year ago
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The worst thing about this is it shows how bad journalism has got these days. It has simply become extrapolate the most sensationalist headline from the most sensationalist source.

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Beaufort [270 posts] 1 year ago
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Any cyclist who strikes a blind pedestrian and/their dog should have the book thrown at them. Regardless of the stats in this survey, only an absolute tool would try to make excuses for that.

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teaboy [311 posts] 1 year ago
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Surely this is just another reason for infrastructure improvements and strict liability. Oh, and a better education system so people can try and understand statistics properly...

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sfichele [140 posts] 1 year ago
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It's important to recognise that cycling closely to a blind person could be intimidating and awareness of these issues should rightfully be raised, but instead, London Guide Dogs seem to have trolled the situation by using lurid and dangerously poor statistics that are just fuelling anti-cycling sentiment.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BwG0oJJIIAAlQMk.jpg
https://twitter.com/geckobike/status/504883235181309952/photo/1

Have you seen the correction put out *after* the press release, demonstrating what a disingenuous survey and stat this was...

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brooksby [1078 posts] 1 year ago
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"Guide Dogs says that cyclists should ... call out or use a bell to alert pedestrians waiting to cross the road to their presence."

I'm a little confused here. How am I to know whether someone is blind/visually-impaired?

Should I ring my bell for every person who is standing by the roadside, just in case they cannot see me and just in case they were going to cross the road? Many (presumably) not visually-impaired pedestrians will often just step out without looking or listening.

In that case, should motorists also be driving around hooting their horn all the time too (oh wait, they do).

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brooksby [1078 posts] 1 year ago
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Beaufort wrote:

Any cyclist who strikes a blind pedestrian and/their dog should have the book thrown at them. Regardless of the stats in this survey, only an absolute tool would try to make excuses for that.

In all fairness, any cyclist riding on the pavement (whether shared-use or not) who strikes a (blind or not-blind) pedestrian and/or their dog should probably have the book thrown at them.

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crazy-legs [733 posts] 1 year ago
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Quote:

Have you seen the correction put out *after* the press release, demonstrating what a disingenuous survey and stat this was...

^^ This.
A non-story based on a self-selecting opinion poll and then extrapolated to give spurious and totally inaccurate "data" which was then sensationalised into an attention grabbing headline.

Bike journo Jon Stevenson went off on one at Guide Dogs Association on Twitter last night, absolutely furious about their underhand tactics - essentially pitting one vulnerable outgroup against another. Disgraceful tactics and as usual, everyone is still running with the first story rather than pay any attention to the retraction and apology.

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Jimmy Ray Will [460 posts] 1 year ago
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Beaufort wrote:

Any cyclist who strikes a blind pedestrian and/their dog should have the book thrown at them. Regardless of the stats in this survey, only an absolute tool would try to make excuses for that.

No one is making excuses.... people are rightly reacting badly to a horribly cynical piece of PR, once again utilising the easy target of cyclists to drive coverage.

I'm going to start making some wild public accusations of my own... then retract them at a later date once I've got the publicity I want... to hell with the damage it does to the groups I've slated in the process.

I for one am happy to tell this society to go fcuk themselves, you won't be seeing any future support from me.

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:
Beaufort wrote:

Any cyclist who strikes a blind pedestrian and/their dog should have the book thrown at them. Regardless of the stats in this survey, only an absolute tool would try to make excuses for that.

No one is making excuses.... people are rightly reacting badly to a horribly cynical piece of PR, once again utilising the easy target of cyclists to drive coverage.

I'm going to start making some wild public accusations of my own... then retract them at a later date once I've got the publicity I want... to hell with the damage it does to the groups I've slated in the process.

I for one am happy to tell this society to go fcuk themselves, you won't be seeing any future support from me.

It's very disappointing, they appear to have quite a big press office, with several contact numbers for media and even out of office hours contacts, I can't see how the original "story" could have possibly have been an accident.

I notice that their statistic of 90% of blind people feel unsafe due to people parking cars on the pavement wasn't screamed from the roof tops?

This to me was a deliberate grab at headlines at the expense of what they saw as an outgroup that was an easy target. It's pretty disgusting really.

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