High Peak MP Andrew Bingham recently experienced Glossop from a different perspective, after accepting an invite from charity Guide Dogs to participate in a blindfold walk. The walk highlighted the dangers of street clutter and other pavement perils such as shared surfaces.
Mr Bingham undertook a blindfold walk with a guide dog and a long cane to raise awareness of how everyday pavement objects can be hazardous for people with sight loss.
Andrew donned a blindfold from the train station in Glossop and headed down to the high street. He experienced what it is like to negotiate advertising boards and other pavement hazards such as café furniture and cars parked on pavements.
Charity Guide Dogs is campaigning for clearer footpaths to help pedestrians with a visual impairment to feel more confident in navigating their environment. Cars parked on pavements, wheelie bins, and advertising boards outside shops are just a few of the moving objects that can cause problems and distress. These items can unnecessarily force someone out on to the road and into oncoming traffic. If that person is blind, disabled, elderly or a child they may not be able to confidently negotiate when it would be safe to do so.
“Undertaking the walk with a guide dog and a long cane really highlighted to me how everyday objects can cause major issues for someone with sight loss. We rely so much on our sight to negotiate around objects, but without that sense it can become a minefield. The walk brought home to me the importance of keeping footpaths as clear as possible, and ensuring that anything placed on the pavement isn’t likely to cause an obstruction."
Kelly France, from Guide Dogs, commented:
“Street clutter is a real problem for people with a visual impairment, as 97% of people who are blind or partially sighted regularly encounter problems with pavement obstacles, such as shop advertising boards or pavement café furniture.
“Poorly parked vehicles that block some or the entire pavement cause problems for many pedestrians. It can force people who are blind or partially sighted, parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users, and many others, to walk into the road and into the path of oncoming traffic.
“Research undertaken by Guide Dogs on shared surface streets has shown that 9 out of 10 people with sight loss were concerned about shared surfaces and 6 out of 10 said they avoid them or are very reluctant to use them.”
To find out more about Guide Dogs’ Campaigns visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/campaigns