Can I Lead the Blind?

  • Home
  • Can I Lead the Blind?
4 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

"I am leading an beginning level ride for another organization. There is a person who wishes to participate who is legally blind. She uses a seeing-eye dog and at 5 feet away she can tell the color of my shirt but I am a blur. This person uses a hand-crank three-wheel recumbent.

At first glance (and second and third) it seems totally unreasonable to have this person ""mainstreamed"" into a group ride -- even a beginning level one. Particularly one that involves NYC streets.

But perhaps I am too hasty. Blind people climb mountains and participate in all kinds of physical activity. One could have her follow a designated person wearing a blinkie which this person could see.

Does anyone here have any experience with this sort of rider? I'd be interested in all tactful thoughts on this subject."

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)

I am aware of visually challenged athletes participating on rides on tandems as stokers, otherwise no.

If you lead a ride in the formal sense, you are obligated to not allow riders to participate if you believe them to be a hazard to themselves or others.

If you're still uncertain, try wrapping a few layers of gauze over your eyes and make your way crosstown.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
"""legally blind"""

"First, the disclaimer: I don't have a concrete answer to YOUR question of WHETHER you should shoulder the responsibility of allowing her in your ride. But you also asked ""Does anyone here have any experience with this sort of rider?""

YES, I've had the opportunity to ride OFF-ROAD with a rider who's ""legally blind""!!! I went on rides with him regularly for almost 2 years.

Only I wasn't the ride leader. HE was!

That tells me that he can see well enough to recognize land features to navigate while moving. Riding on dirt roads and narrow foot pathes, he must have been able to see where the trail ends and where the grass starts, because he was able to stay on track. Granted, off-road riding, the speed was not that fast.

I was told he also rides on the road, too. But I've never participated on road rides with him. So I don't know how fast those ride were. When we were going downhill on the fire roads, I think we probably hit 15-20 mph. (I don't have a cyclometer on my mtn bike)

I think it really depends on the individual and the severity of their visual imparement. ""Legally blind"" can range from totally blind to being able to make out shapes and forms at some distance. And while one rider might be fine riding in a group of trusted friends, the same can not be said of another ""legally blind"" rider of lesser experience or more severe impariment, or maybe not even the same rider in a different, less familiar group of riders.

Those are the answers you need to find out, if you still wish to consider the option of having her along."

Anonymous's picture
Markus Fothen (not verified)

The open roads probably pose too many dangers.

As suggested before, the best solution is probably a Tandem.

Anonymous's picture
Ken (not verified)
Thanks for the responses

"Thanks for the thoughtful responses. Yes, a better way to state my question would be not SHOULD I lead a ride -- that is my personal decision -- but what are others' experiences with blind riders? If anyone else has anecdotes of legally blind riders, I would be interested in hearing them.

This particular person can distinguish obstacles at a close distance -- around 5 feet. This person cannot follow the general direction of the West Side Bike Path unless someone follows her saying ""hard left"", ""left"", ""slight left,"" etc. In addition this person has trouble seeing the traffic lights with the bicycle stencil in them."

cycling trips