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Kind Londoners offer 'overwhelming' show of support to blind man after irate commuter orders him out of the way on Tube escalator

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 09/02/2018

a person sitting on a bench with a dog © Provided by Independent Print Limited A blind man was "overwhelmed" by an outpouring of support from Londoners after an irate commuter demanded he and his guide dog move out of the way on an Underground escalator.

Amit Patel, 37, said he was approached by dozens of people on his commute home, and his phone has not stopped buzzing since footage of the row was shared online.

He told the Standard how supporters called him and his dog's name as he passed them in the street.

"People were shouting mine and Kika's name and saying 'Don't worry Amit we will stop behind you'," Mr Patel said.

a man holding a dog: amit-and-kika.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited amit-and-kika.jpg

He captured the shocking scenes on a video camera mounted on the guide dog's collar.

Mr Patel, who lost his sight five years ago after suffering a haemorrhage behind his eyes, was standing on the escalator with Kika on his left hand side when the man confronted the pair.

He angrily accused them of blocking his way and wasting his time.

In the video a TfL worker helping Mr Patel down the escalator can be heard confronting the impatient commuter.

a close up of a sign: guidedoggrab0802a.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited guidedoggrab0802a.jpg

One man commented: "Some people need to learn some manners and give a little consideration to others."

John Nichol responded: "Unacceptable behaviour. Hopefully it is just a minority! Keep up the good work Kika; you and your dad are a brilliant team. Huge respect to you both."

Mr Patel said at least 50 people approached him on his journey home to say they couldn't believe the incident had occurred. He said: "It's nice. It's lonely being blind, I kind of keep to myself, I don't listen to music. But today I haven't stopped."

He added: "It's a little bit of education out there and I am overwhelmed with the amount of support.

"I think people will think twice now. A lot of people weren't sure if you could walk past guide dogs."

Mr Patel added: "I'm glad it's out there because I go through this. The reality is that this does happen.

"I'm glad that people will see this and think twice.

"If you see someone visually impaired be courteous... be human."

Other commuters stepped in to support Mr Patel after the confrontation

Mr Patel said he feels "safer" with Kika standing on the left hand side of the escalator, and his greatest fear is the guide dog having a bad experience on one, such as getting her paws caught.

If she no longer used the moving escalator, Mr Patel would be limited to using step-free access stations or having to ask TfL staff to stop the machines.

"If Kika ever has a bad experience on an escalator she won't go on one again.

"It's only five per cent of guide dogs that can go on escalators and they are only trained in London," he said.

Since losing his sight Mr Patel has dedicated his life to volunteering with guide dogs for the Royal Institute of the Blind. He shares his daily travels through London on social media via the Twitter account @Kika_GuideDog.

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