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The Straits Times
April 27, 2023
A video of a cyclist who collided with a visually impaired pedestrian who was with a guide dog has gone viral, with more than 55,000 views on one page alone.
Social service charity Guide Dogs Singapore (GDS) told The Straits Times that the pedestrian is Mr Thomas Chan, who is paired with Eve, a three-year-old golden retriever-labrador guide dog.
In the video circulating on social media, a man in yellow on a bicycle can be seen cycling towards Mr Chan. The cyclist does not appear to stop, slow down or give way as he proceeds to collide with Mr Chan, with the camera shaking on impact.
Eve – seen wearing her working harness – looks back at Mr Chan, before they both continue walking forward.
According to the GDS website, guide dogs can be identified by their working harnesses, which have a hard handle to enable their vision-impaired user to feel directions and movement.
In Singapore, guide dogs wear a yellow harness with text indicating that they are working dogs.
Guide dog teams who are with GDS are also identifiable by a guide dog team identification card.
Mr Chan was diagnosed with glaucoma when he was 16. His sight started to deteriorate in his early 20s, which eventually led to blindness. He was successfully paired with Eve in 2022 as GDS’ 10th guide dog team.
According to GDS, Mr Chan sometimes wears his mobile phone around his body with a chest mount kit when he travels, and uploads videos he records onto his social media accounts to chronicle his journeys with Eve.
The video of the incident with the cyclist was initially uploaded on Mr Chan’s TikTok page on March 21, and then re-uploaded onto the Beh Chia Lor – Singapore Road Facebook page on Tuesday.
When asked about the incident, Mr Chan referred ST to GDS’ comments on the matter.
GDS said: “Thomas and his guide dog Eve did not suffer from any injuries.”
It added: “While the recent incident was unfortunate, it has highlighted the importance of raising awareness about how the public can help ensure guide dog users’ safety while they navigate their surroundings.”
A simple but effective way for cyclists to alert guide dog users of their presence is to ring their bicycle bell when approaching, said the charity.
This allows them to hear the sound and know that there is a cyclist nearby, giving them the time and space they need to move out of the way and avoid any potential collisions.
@japanese_eve_n_thomas Let us all be courteous to all shared path users.. make it safe for everyone! #guidedogssingapore #accessibility #gds #servicedog #servicedoglife #sgtiktok #inclusivesg ♬ original sound - Eve & Thomas - Shop With Eve & Thomas
“Incidents involving guide dog users and cyclists can unfortunately occur more often than we would like to see,” said GDS, adding that some members of the public may not be aware of the presence of guide dogs or how to interact with them safely.
“Cyclists may pose a greater risk, as their speed and silent approach can be difficult for guide dogs and their users to detect.”
Additionally, users of white canes – mobility aids that people with vision loss can use to detect obstacles in their paths – also face the risks of colliding with cyclists or personal mobility devices, said GDS.
“While ringing the bicycle bell does help, some people with vision impairment also have a hearing impairment, and they may not pick up the sound of the bell very well. A stationary bicycle that obstructs a walkway can also be dangerous as people using white canes may get their white canes stuck in the wheels, and end up injuring themselves.”
GDS strongly encourages members of the public and cyclists to exercise patience and look out for people with vision impairment, whether they are using a white cane or guide dog.
Guide dogs in Singapore are approved and allowed in halal-certified premises, according to an advisory from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.
They are also permitted on public transport according to rapid transit systems regulations.
The Housing Board and the National Parks Board’s Animal and Veterinary Service allow guide dogs to live in HDB flats.
The National Environment Agency and the Singapore Food Agency also allow guide dogs in restaurants, foodcourts and cafes.