Guide dog leads blind owner into street to avoid uncleared sidewalk

A blind woman is complaining to the city after her guide dog led her into oncoming traffic in order to avoid a pile of snow left uncleared on a west Edmonton sidewalk.

City has seen huge spike in number of tickets issued for uncleared sidewalks in 2014

Daryl Lang is legally blind and relies on her guide dog, Jenny, to help her get around. Earlier this week, Jenny led Lang onto a busy street in order to avoid a snow pile left on an uncleared sidewalk. (CBC)

A blind woman is complaining to the city after her guide dog led her into oncoming traffic in order to avoid a pile of snow left uncleared on a west Edmonton sidewalk.

“It was the scariest three minutes of my life,” says Daryl Lang. "It was terrifying."

At first, everything seemed normal as Lang’s guide dog Jenny led her along the packed snow of a 107th Avenue sidewalk on Monday.

“I'm following my dog, my dog is going to keep me safe,” she remembers thinking.

“I'm following my dog, my dog is going to keep me safe,” Lang remembers thinking as her dog swerved to avoid an uncleared snow pile. (CBC)
But when Jenny encountered a snowbank blocking the sidewalk, she veered left to where the snow had been cleared.

“The next thing I knew there were cars zooming past six inches past my left shoulder,” she said.

“And then I realized, I'm on 107th Avenue, like I'm actually on the avenue,” said Lang. “I'm just going to hope that all those motorists that are zooming past there are paying attention and can see me.”

Lang says a windrow prevented her from getting back on the sidewalk, so she and Jenny had no choice but to continue walking along the road until they could get through.

Ang Lang, who made a complaint to the city after the incident, isn’t the only Edmontonian with special mobility needs who’s had trouble getting around.

Senior Barb Rankin uses a walker to help her get around the city. Since the snow has come down, an uncleared sidewalk along Saskatchewan Drives means it’s easier for her to walk on the road than to drag her walker behind her through the snow.

Barb Rankin has difficulty pushing her walker along uncleared sidewalks, and in some cases, is forced to take her walker out on the street to get through. (CBC)
“It's easier, and I walk carefully at the edge
but one shouldn't, because it is a busy street in the morning,” she said.

Rankin said several complaints have been filed about the sidewalk in question, but she hasn’t seen any improvement yet.

In November, the City of Edmonton issued 180 tickets to people who failed to clear their sidewalk nearly double the number of tickets issued in 2013.

On top of that, the city is still dealing with more than 200 open investigations into uncleared sidewalks about 50 of which are in the neighbourhood where Lang was led into danger.

Now, the city has put five extra bylaw officers on the streets to help keep up with all the complaints coming in.

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