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Dublin: -1°C Saturday 17 April 2021

'Poorly parked cars can cause blind people to walk into busy roads'

Irish Guide Dogs this week launched their SmartStreet Hero campaign, asking people to leave footpaths clear.

Image: Conor McCabe

THE PUBLIC IS being urged to take more care about where they park their cars or place their bins.

Irish Guide Dogs this week launched their SmartStreet Hero campaign, asking people to leave footpaths clear.

They are launching their campaign to create better awareness of how pavements blocked by parked cars, wheelie bins, overhanging hedges and street furniture, such as shop signage, can impede the independence and mobility of people with vision impairment.

They say these obstacles force people with vision loss on to roads in the midst of noisy, fast moving traffic, which they cannot see.

Some of their clients have had injuries walking around their local area. With increased fear, anxiety and a real risk of injury, some feel so intimidated by the risks outside that they end up staying at home and becoming even more isolated.

Guide Dog Owner Joe Bollard said things can often be difficult for him and his guide dog, York.

Before I got a guide dog, life was ok. I was totally dependent on others. Now life is incredible. I enjoy nothing more than leaving the house first thing every day and strolling down to Bray harbour.

Joe recalls one incident where he was forced out on to the road to get around a car blocking the pathway.

When the driver of the car returned Joe told him he shouldn’t park on the pavement.

The driver responded with ‘Isn’t that what your guide dog is for?’

”People may not realise the danger they are putting blind people in when they park on the pavement. We are forced to walk out on to the road in the midst of traffic which we can not see. Our safety is at risk and my guide dog is put under undue stress.”

“Dealing with issues of poorly parked cars and ill-placed bins is a daily challenge for myself and York.

Often people who are in a hurry do things without thinking. They park awkwardly on footpaths or pop the bin out leaving it right in my way. In this campaign I hope to help us all see how simple actions can have a larger impact. For myself and York that might mean walking out onto a busy or dangerous road.

Irish Guide Dogs are asking the public to park on the street, not the pavement, cut back hedges and be careful of where they leave their bins.

Read: Blind woman ‘heartbroken’ after guide dog was taken away for being overweight

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