Getting around in London on public transport is fast and convenient. Even with a dog. However, if you travel with a large four-legged friend, escalators can become your nightmare. It is a matter of common knowledge that dogs may get injured on escalators: fur, nails or skin can get trapped into moving staircases’ teeth causing serious harm to your pet. So, unless you are Ryan Gosling – who was pictured few years back carrying his beloved furry companion George – or you are otherwise strong enough to carry your dog for an escalator ride, you may want to look for ways to avoid moving staircases.
In this post I will tell you the tricks of a trouble-free (aka escalator-free) tube ride with your weighty furry companion. In addition, I will also provide you with some advice for the case your dog has mobility problems and you wish to travel on public transport avoiding steps/gaps as much as possible.
Getting around on public trasports with a dog: general rules
The conditions for animal carriage on public transports in London are set out at Section 16 of TfL’s (Transport for London) Conditions of Carriage (also copied at the bottom of this post).
According to TfL’s conditions, dogs can travel on public transport for free, while kept on a lead on in a container. No muzzle is required, however staff can refuse access if there is a good reason to do so, for example if your dog looks dangerous.
The rule is that, unless you fall under the guide dog exception, you should opt for stairs or lifts rather than escalators, and where no alternative to moving escalators is available you shall:
- carry your dog; or
- ask a member of staff to stop the escalator and let you pass, subject to condition that the station is not busy.
If you are worried that you cannot carry your dog nor rely on TfL staff’s help because you are travelling through busy stations or simply because it is not always possible to find a member of staff available when you bump into an escalator during your travel, the next paragraph is for you.
Avoiding escalators with a large dog
It is great to watch what a great synchrony my husband and Argo have developed… Argo exactly knows when to jump and “perch” on my husband’s shoulder to be carried up or down the escalator and he seems to enjoy the ride, too.
Things work differently when my furry companion and I are travelling alone: I rather have to plan our route assessing which tube stations have a staircase or lift alternative to escalators, because I feel over 30 kilos of dog is a bit too much for my back’s sake!
Unfortunately Citymapper at the moment does not offer any accessibility option in planning your journey, but not everything is lost!
No escalators-free tube guides are available on TfL’s website, however there is a simple way to plan your stress (and escalator) free journey with your dog. All you have to do is accessing TfL’s Plan a journey tool (on tfl.gov.uk), click on Edit Preferences and select “Use stairs, not escalators” in the access options box (in case you prefer it, you can also choose to tailor your journey for step-free platform only or full-step free access). Below you can find some screenshots to help with a visual aid. Once you have typed in your start and arrival, click “plan your journey” at the bottom, and there you go! Your perfect escalator-free travel is served.
Avoiding steps for dogs with mobility problems
Recently I saw a lady with a dog on a cart. Of course if you have a small dog like a corgi it might not be an issue for you to carry it in case you encounter some stairs/steps. But what if you have a German Shepherd with dysplasia or another large-breed dog with mobility issues due to arthritis, ligament injuries, or similar?
There is some good news. You can still use TfL’s Plan a journey tool, click on Edit preferences and select “Step-free to platform only” or “Full-step free access” in the access options box.
TfL’s Conditions of Carriage (current version dated 20 May 2016)
(Section 16 – Animals)