Members of King’s Lynn guide dog forum voice concerns over potential distress cyclists can cause on paths

Gill Southgate. Picture: Ian Burt

Gill Southgate. Picture: Ian Burt

Members of a guide dog forum have voiced their concern over the potential distress cyclists could cause when using paths.

The issue has become a hot topic for members of the King's Lynn user-led action group who are highlighting how cyclists could be more considerate.

Gill Southgate, a co-ordinator of the forum, said: 'When a cyclist passes by on the path, it can startle both the guide dog and its owner and can be quite a frightening experience.

'It would be really helpful if cyclists could ring their bell or call when they want to pass a guide dog and their owner. We could then stop and let the cyclist go past. It is also preferable for the bike to pass on the right of the person, a guide dog walks on the left of its owner, therefore the dog will not be worried by a cycle passing close by.'

She added: 'This is of course on cycle paths, they shouldn't be cycling on a normal pavement.'

Forum member Genene Henshaw, who is registered blind, said she was walking home from Gaywood library when a group of four boys came on to the path 'at a fair speed'. She said three passed her but a fourth got so close he touched her shoulder and fell off his bike.

She said the incident left her upset and worried about the boy who had fallen off his bike.

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But she added: 'If the shoe was on the other foot, I would get off my cycle and walk past a guide dog owner. It only takes three steps then they could get back on their bike.'

She said some cyclists took for granted they could cycle on any pavement or any part of a pavement.

Gordon Stewart, a member of the forum which meets during the year at the Willow Tree in King's Lynn, said he had been knocked by the handle bars of a child's bike.

He added he was not against cyclists and he could understand small children cycling on the path with their parents but some bike-users – of all ages – illegally cycled on the pavement.

Mr Stewart said some cyclists came past him very quickly.

He said: 'If they put themselves in my shoes, you can't see, your only guide is a dog beside you and what you can feel by the handle. It's very, very scary.

'Nobody thinks about what it would be like to be blind, walking along a path. I know I didn't before I lost my sight.'

Mr Stewart added if his dog was hurt this would have a 'massive impact' and he would be too frightened to go back into his harness.

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