Guide Dogs for the Blind are peddling dodgy statistics, say cyclists
Allegations that guide-dog owners aren’t safe from reckless bike riders are disputed
London’s streets should be wide enough for cyclists and guide dogs to co-exist, one would think.
But a furious row has erupted after cyclists were accused by a charity of making guide-dog owners cower in fear.
A survey conducted by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association claimed that cyclists are increasingly smashing into blind Londoners and their guide dogs after mounting the pavement and jumping red lights.
The charity, which helps blind and visually impaired people, said more Londoners were calling its helpline to report being hit or involved in near misses. One in four London guide-dog-owners said their dogs had been hit by cyclists, according to the charity.
Rob Harris, London engagement manager for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, said that “irresponsible cyclists” had made some visually impaired people “anxious and fearful” about walking the streets – which was “worrying”.
The claims were widely reported and have now prompted a furious response from cyclists, who argued that “dodgy” statistics were used to launch a “fabricated attack” on them.
A blog on road.cc, “the website for pedal-powered people”, complained that the survey was not representative of the 41,060 people registered blind or partially sighted in London, of whom just over 320 use guide dogs in the city.
The survey relied on just 33 self-selected guide-dog-owners in London who responded to an online appeal, with 14 saying they had been involved in a collision and 25 reporting that they had been involved in a near miss with cyclists on pavements or jumping red lights.
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has now withdrawn the “one in four” collision claim and admitted that information it provided was “incorrect”.
John Stevenson, the blog author, wrote: “Guide Dogs clearly went looking for ammunition, having already decided to target cyclists.”
Of the near-miss claims reported by 76 per cent of the respondents, Mr Stevenson wrote: “The reaction of one guide dog user I mentioned this to was: ‘How did they know, they’re blind?’ Well, quite.”
Mr Stevenson argued: “By sloshing around its deeply dubious numbers, Guide Dogs was able to get all sorts of people who should know better on board with its anti-cyclist campaign.”
Charlie Lloyd, from the London Cycling Campaign, initially endorsed the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association campaign, saying: “Any crash or a close pass which frightens or intimidates a pedestrian is unacceptable. Far worse when that person is blind, partially sighted or in any way less able than we are.”
He later told road.cc: “I don’t know if it was a stitch-up. The absurd casualty stats were quickly withdrawn.”
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association backed up its survey with testimonials from victims of irresponsible cycling, including Deborah Persaud, a guide-dog-owner who said that she was involved in a collision with a cyclist on the pavement while she was walking home in Islington.
She said: “My dress was torn, the contents of my handbag damaged, and I was left with damage to my shoulder and hip.”
Guide Dogs wants cyclists to follow five rules, including either using a bell or calling out if they see a guide-dog-user or a person with a white cane.
They also want cyclists to maintain a good distance so as not to startle a dog and allow them time to fully cross the road.
A spokesperson for Guide Dogs said: "We recognise that the sample size was small and we explained this in the materials for media. It is striking that in London blind and partially sighted people came forward to tell us they had been hit by a cyclist. That is worrying and is the basis of our concern especially as we have started to see an increase in people contacting us about collisions with cyclists. We support cycling and are keen to work with the cycling community to ensure there is greater awareness of the needs of blind and partially sighted people."
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Power of Nepal earthquake was equivalent to 20 huge atomic bombs
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£12 - £14 per hour: Recruitment Genius: We are looking for someone to join a s...
£15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in Medical Devices is...
£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...