Why do I need to know about sight loss as an e-scooter rider?

More than 2 million people in the UK live with sight loss. You need to be alert to pedestrians who might step in front of you.  

We’re just like you

Blind and partially sighted people live active and fulfilled lives. Living independently, raising families, using technology, and working in many and varied occupations.

Now might be a good time to get your eyes checked

The Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) tell us that 55% of blindness is avoidable. You need to ensure you are having regular eye checks whatever your age. Stay safe and make sure you wear your glasses when scooting.

You won’t know if someone can’t see

Blind and partially sighted people don’t look any different from anyone else. Not everyone who is blind or partially sighted uses a white cane. Even fewer use guide dogs. Most people who are blind or partially sighted have a bit of sight. Some people may be able to see the brightest light, others may be able to make out large letters and signs. A significant majority of blind and partially sighted people are more than 75 years of age. Often older blind and partially sighted people also experience difficulties with hearing.  

So why won’t people see me coming?

There are many causes of sight loss affecting people of all ages, from babies to people in their 90s. Macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in the UK. This condition leaves people with an inability to see detail due to a loss of central vision. If the person with a macular condition looks straight at you when you scoot towards them, you will simply appear to vanish. Other conditions leave people unable to see sideways. They are said to have tunnel vision. Individuals with tunnel vision can only see what’s directly in front of them. If you approach from either side, you may startle them. People who have tunnel vision often see nothing in the dark or in low lighting. Cataracts are also extremely common, and are a clouding of the lens, meaning the world is blurred and colours appear fuzzy and indistinct. Bright light and sunlight is often painful for blind and partially sighted people, often causing them to see far less than normal.  

White canes

Remember not everyone who is blind or partially sighted uses a white cane. White canes are powerful tools in the hands of blind and partially sighted people. Canes tell other people you can’t see. This means other people offer help, move out of the way or understand why something is taking a little longer. A short white cane is designed simply to let others know you have difficulty seeing. Longer mobility canes help blind and partially sighted users to detect obstacles and find their way about. Red and white canes indicate that someone is deafblind. Some younger people with sight loss opt to use canes of different colours.

Remember, an e-scooter laid flat on the floor is very difficult to detect with a long cane even for a skilled user. Abandoning e-scooters, and laying them down flat will create a trip hazard for all sorts of pedestrians.

Woman walking with service dog.

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs help some blind and partially sighted people move around independently. Dogs and owners train together to form a partnership. Guide dogs follow the clear instructions of their owners. Guide dogs are trained to detect obstacles at floor level and head height. It’s essential you don’t distract a working dog. Don’t feed the dog. Don’t scoot too close if you are sharing a roadway. Remember e-scooters are new technologies and the guide dog may never have encountered one before making it uncertain how to react.  

So how can I help blind and partially sighted people when I’m scooting?

  • Know it takes courage for blind and partially sighted people to leave home, so be mindful and respectful
  • Assume anyone crossing a road or stepping off a payment might not be able to see or hear you
  • Wear something bright and highly visible, this might just allow someone to see you coming
  • Don’t ride too close to guide dogs or their owners
  • If you’ve stopped for someone who you know can’t see tell them you are there
  • If you stop for a break don’t lay your scooter on the ground, park in a safe place that doesn’t cause an obstruction
  • When you finish your journey, always leave your scooter in the clearly designated parking space.

Would you like more information?

If you want to know more about what it’s like to live with sight loss or where to get help visit  www.londonvision.org

You’ll find blogs by blind and partially sighted people and information on services and support.