1 in 4 guide dogs in London have been struck by a cyclist, says charity

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

by Simon_MacMichael   August 27, 2014  

Except_Guide_Dogs_(licensed_by_William_Murphy_under_CC_BY-SA_2.0_on_Flickr)

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.

49 user comments

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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.

posted by CasperCCC [26 posts]
27th August 2014 - 22:27

7 Likes

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."

andybwhite's picture

posted by andybwhite [230 posts]
27th August 2014 - 22:35

25 Likes

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.

posted by rliu [22 posts]
28th August 2014 - 0:30

30 Likes

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.

posted by Beaufort [184 posts]
28th August 2014 - 6:10

5 Likes

Probably swerving to avoid all the dog shit on the pavement …..

Yeah, if a blind dog does a crap on the pavement how does the blind owner know to pick it up or where to pick it up?

Airzound

posted by Airzound [592 posts]
28th August 2014 - 6:53

15 Likes

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...

posted by teaboy [208 posts]
28th August 2014 - 8:00

17 Likes

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...

posted by sfichele [122 posts]
28th August 2014 - 8:00

18 Likes

"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).

posted by brooksby [245 posts]
28th August 2014 - 8:01

3 Likes

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.

posted by brooksby [245 posts]
28th August 2014 - 8:04

26 Likes

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.

posted by crazy-legs [602 posts]
28th August 2014 - 8:13

15 Likes

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.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [429 posts]
28th August 2014 - 8:14

20 Likes

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.

posted by farrell [1641 posts]
28th August 2014 - 9:05

15 Likes

daddyELVIS wrote:
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!!

I have, I used to pass a blind chap regularly who walked his dog along a split segregated cycle track near my home. I think the actual reason why he used it, is because it was a relatively safe place for him to let his dog do its doggie business (and for obvious reasons, blind people have special exemption from the laws on bagging and binning said business).

Well naturally, the dog had a poor understanding of the signs indicating which part of the path it should be guiding its owner along, so how to handle such a situation. Answer, slow down, call out "passing on your right mate", and let the freewheel do a bit of clicking so they know where you are.

I spoke to the chap a few times, and he was fine with that, and he knew there was a cycletrack there. If you're in a busier part of town you may want to dismount whether it's required or not. Really, the could have summed it up with one rule, just be considerate.

posted by bikebot [950 posts]
28th August 2014 - 9:11

18 Likes

CasperCCC wrote:
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.

Well said, Sir.

posted by Duncann [118 posts]
28th August 2014 - 9:17

16 Likes

..

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [279 posts]
28th August 2014 - 10:00

5 Likes

RLJ nobber cyclists attacking the blind, is this the Daily Mail?

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [279 posts]
28th August 2014 - 10:01

8 Likes

Leodis wrote:
RLJ nobber cyclists attacking the blind, is this the Daily Mail?

Are we reading the same comments thread? I can't see anyone attacking "the blind". In fact I think everyone is in agreement that a cyclist hitting *anyone* is A Bad Thing.

People are, quite rightly, attacking the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association for publishing an inflammatory and wholly inaccurate press release which sought to demonise an actually largely innocent group.

posted by crazy-legs [602 posts]
28th August 2014 - 10:15

12 Likes

crazy-legs wrote:
Leodis wrote:
RLJ nobber cyclists attacking the blind, is this the Daily Mail?

Are we reading the same comments thread? I can't see anyone attacking "the blind". In fact I think everyone is in agreement that a cyclist hitting *anyone* is A Bad Thing.

People are, quite rightly, attacking the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association for publishing an inflammatory and wholly inaccurate press release which sought to demonise an actually largely innocent group.

Sorry just spent 5 minutes reading the Daily Mail and it must have had some kinda weird UKIP voting mental change to me.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [279 posts]
28th August 2014 - 10:39

11 Likes

brooksby wrote:
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 bricks thrown at them.

Fixed that for you...

posted by jacknorell [778 posts]
28th August 2014 - 10:41

13 Likes

climber wrote:

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.

The dogs aren't taking part...there is a sponsored bike ride along the length of the Taff Trail raising money for Guide Dogs Cymru...and as a daily user of the Trail I know that there are sections where dog walkers go out of their way to be obstructive and aggressive towards cyclists making their commute and use of this path difficult to the point where some cyclists now use the roads to avoid these areas.

And me, a dog walking, Taff Trail using bike riding joker....

And it still isn't fit for purpose

posted by ct [90 posts]
28th August 2014 - 10:56

9 Likes

1 in 4 guide dogs in London have been struck by a cyclist, says charity

But they weren't, as the charity later admitted.

So when is road.cc going to change its headline?

posted by congokid [184 posts]
28th August 2014 - 13:54

12 Likes

drfabulous0 wrote:
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.

I believe you are thinking in terms of a quiet path. In that situation the dog will be able to hear a cyclist approaching and even the blind person would hear a cyclist before a sighted person would, as hearing is their primary sense to detect what is going on in the world around them.

Though have a quick look at the video that goes with the Guide Dog association “Cycleyes Campaign”. It literally shows what a blind person waiting at a crossing on a busy city road sees (of course unlike you and I, it is nothing) and what their primary sense (hearing) detects. Then it repeats the scene and shows at the crossing there are dozens of cyclists that can’t be heard above all the background noise from traffic etc. Of course the dog can see the cyclists and knows they are there, but the dog relies on the cyclists stopping at the crossing when in theory it is safe to walk across.

http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/cycleyes

posted by Pete B [19 posts]
28th August 2014 - 14:47

7 Likes

brooksby wrote:
"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).

Is that a serious question ? But I’ll give an answer.

I thought it was universal knowledge that blind / visually impaired carry a white stick. Perhaps they might not have a white stick if they are been guided by a dog. In which case it is obvious that it is a Guide Dog, as instead of a lead the person will be holding what can be best described as a handle that is attached to a harness on the dog. Not always, but usually Guide Dogs also have some sort of hi-viz jacket or have a hi-viz band on the harness.

Anyway no matter what the statistics are, I think it is awful that there are any people on bikes that are frightening blind people even to the point the blind person is fearful going out.

One statistic I do find quite sad, is that in London there are 41,000 registered blind or partially sighted, but there are only 320 Guide Dogs. Perhaps the Guide Dog association have done a PR disaster by trying to use “sensationalism” to draw attention to their “Cycleyes Campaign” in a way that has got some cyclists backs up. I hope it doesn’t discourage cyclists taking part in sponsored rides ect to help them fund more Guide Dogs. All the campaign is asking for, is for cyclists to be considerate and appreciate the difficulties blind and partially sighted people have.

On a positive note of blind people and cycling, where I am there is a group that regularly takes blind people out cycling on tandems Smile

posted by Pete B [19 posts]
28th August 2014 - 14:54

8 Likes

Pete B wrote:
brooksby wrote:
...

Is that a serious question ? But I’ll give an answer.

I thought it was universal knowledge that blind / visually impaired carry a white stick. Perhaps they might not have a white stick if they are been guided by a dog. In which case it is obvious that it is a Guide Dog, as instead of a lead the person will be holding what can be best described as a handle that is attached to a harness on the dog. Not always, but usually Guide Dogs also have some sort of hi-viz jacket or have a hi-viz band on the harness.

It actually was a serious question.

I know all about white sticks, and guide dogs. But someone can be visually impaired, and basically not able to see properly, and not have a stick or a guide dog. A bloke I know from college is like that (I know that sounds like a cliche, but it is true).

I will try and look out for someone with a white stick or a guide dog on a harness by the side of the road (when also trying to look out for evil white van drivers), but I cannot know for certain whether someone intends to cross. It worries me that am I more likely to freak someone out, if they cannot see - properly, or at all - and suddenly a bell starts ringing close by?

posted by brooksby [245 posts]
28th August 2014 - 15:23

3 Likes

Pete B wrote:
brooksby wrote:

One statistic I do find quite sad, is that in London there are 41,000 registered blind or partially sighted, but there are only 320 Guide Dogs. /quote]

I am sure that they could use a few more. However, not all blind people or even partially sighted people want a guide dog. The subset of blind people that can usefully use and want a Guide dog is quite small. Most partially sighted or registered blind people are so because they are old. Then there are people suffering from other disabilities related to blindness. (some older diabetics for example are prone to suffer diabetic retinopathy).

Some people are not mobile on foot. Some people are not suited to looking after a dog or live in accommodation that is not suitable for a dog.

A dog is most useful to an otherwise fully fit responsible adult living in appropriate acommodation for keeping a dog and who want one. I bet there's more than a few hundred or so in London but your assumption that every blind person has use of, could keep or even wants a Guide dog is misplaced.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [833 posts]
28th August 2014 - 15:23

10 Likes

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
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." Laughing

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?

No. A sign saying "No dogs or cycles past this point" would be a circular sign with a red border and black pictograms of a cycle and a dog on a white field. The red diagonal cancels this and affirms the opposite. Have a look in your highway code, in particular those signs which ban motor vehicles or cycles. Big Grin

posted by levermonkey [469 posts]
28th August 2014 - 15:26

10 Likes

levermonkey wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
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." Laughing

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?

No. A sign saying "No dogs or cycles past this point" would be a circular sign with a red border and black pictograms of a cycle and a dog on a white field. The red diagonal cancels this and affirms the opposite. Have a look in your highway code, in particular those signs which ban motor vehicles or cycles. Big Grin

Surely it says; No Cycling or Dogging unless it's with a Guide Big Grin

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [637 posts]
28th August 2014 - 16:45

8 Likes

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

Ha - have you been to India? Now THEY know how to hoot (or "horn" in local grammar")

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

goggy's picture

posted by goggy [127 posts]
29th August 2014 - 12:28

5 Likes

Hmmm ... when I click on the video it says "This video is private". I guess they're editing it Wink

By "video" I mean the CyclesEyes campaign one...

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

goggy's picture

posted by goggy [127 posts]
29th August 2014 - 12:35

0 Likes

Apparently this is up for discussion on You and Yours on Radio 4 on Monday 1st September.

I will make a point of listening to see whether they repeat the original lies or bring some other 'facts' to the discussion.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [637 posts]
29th August 2014 - 15:21

0 Likes