London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon has welcomed an undertaking by Mayor Boris Johnson to revise a London Underground by-law banning guide dogs from using moving escalators.
Pidgeon raised the issue at Wednesday’s Mayor’s Question Time session, just a week after a visually impaired member of public used People’s Question Time to tell the Mayor of the difficulties he has in accessing the Tube network.
Although London Underground staff will often provide assistance to visually impaired passengers, including by stopping escalators where possible, their official line is that this may not be possible “at busy times” in case it causes overcrowding.
Where it’s not possible to stop escalators or gain access to platforms via other means visually impaired passengers with assistance dogs are advised to carry the dog down the escalators.
Mayor Johnson told Pidgeon he would ensure the review of the by-law was completed as quickly as possible, potentially opening the way for greater accessibility of the tube network for guide dog users.
Commenting on the Mayor’s undertaking Pidgeon said: “The ban on blind people being able to take a guide dog onto moving escalators is outdated and must be changed. There is now clear evidence that trained guide dogs can safely use moving escalators so ending the insulting service that many blind people currently face when they use the tube.”
Pidgeon also welcomed the Mayor’s announcement that LU was planning to wide aisle tickets gates – which guide dogs are trained to recognise and guide their owners to them – at 100 additional stations over the next 18 months.
However she said the new gates would still mean “one in five tube stations will still lack a basic access facility for many blind people” and called on the Mayor to confirm when all stations would be accessible to guide dog users.