Thursday, 19 April 2012

Simply unbelievable. If AddisonLee wasn't worrying you before, it will be once you've read this. I'm shaking after reading it.

AddisonLee in-house magazine. The chairman speaks. Courtesy Graham Lehr on twitter

I'm not sure what to say. I wanted to assume this is a spoof. But it's not. This is the chairman's comment page in the latest edition of Add Lib magazine, distributed in Addison Lee cars to its customers. You can read the text on's website here

The man is suggesting not only that his minicabs should break the law and drive in bus lanes (the Guardian has more on this here). He seems to be hinting that motorists should have no obligation to slow down or pay attention to what happens around them as far people on bikes (or pedestrians, one assumes?) are concerned because they may be new cyclists and they may not be trained and they may not have paid for a motor vehicle or for (non-existant) "road tax". He is suggesting people should not have rights to cycle on public roads until they become 'one of us' - fully trained and paid up.

The fact is, it's not just novice cyclists who have to swerve to avoid drains or potholes. All cyclists may have to, even fully trained cyclists. Which is why we (backed by the Highway Code) ask drivers to leave enough room when passing. And furthermore, if an AddisonLee driver sees a granny wobbling down the road, he should slow down and give her plenty of room. Frankly, why shouldn't a granny be able to wobble down a road in London on her bicycle in any case? Why shouldn't London's older residents want to get on bicycles and make the city 'thick with bicycles'? 

I will say one thing. John Griffin is right that London's cyclists are 'throwing themselves on to some of the most congested space in the world'. The thing is, most of the hundreds of thousands of us who do so each day in London reckon it would be a lot less congested if more of that space was made cycle-friendly to encourage people not to drive but to cycle instead. Mr Griffin, it would suit both our purposes: Space for safe cycling and space for your business too.

I'm not sure if I'm more outraged by his comments on cycling or by the fact that he links cycling solely with the Green party. I think Jenny Jones has made all the right noises about cycling. But 'cycling' is not the stuff of 'green' politics. Cyclists come in all shapes and sizes and all sorts of political beliefs.

City of London headquarters - just half of the cycle parking here
In all honesty, Griffin is making some points that do need discussing. But he's making them in a way that I think is irresponsible for a man in his position who has just announced his intention to have minicabs drive in bus lanes - the nearest thing London has to bike lanes.

Griffin could have chosen to use this article to call for safer cycling infrastructure or for better tolerance between different road users. But he didn't. He calls for cyclists to get trained.  Fair enough. But what's all this about 'paying up'? Does he mean cyclists should become car drivers?

For now, I shall leave this article with one image. This is a picture I have posted before, of just half of the 'car' park of a City of London headquarters. The people who use these bikes use AddisonLee on a contract basis during the day. Because their employer has a contract with Mr Griffin's company to do so. I wonder if they like being labelled with the terms used in Mr Griffin's editorial comment? I wonder if they like the fact that AddisonLee's chairman seems to suggest it is alright that they might be run over because one of his drivers might not need to feel he needs to look out for cyclists?

I would point AddisonLee to last weekend's Financial Times or last week's Telegraph. I think AddisonLee hasn't woken up to the fact that its customers are cyclists. Plenty of them too.

If you're not angry yet, I suggest you look at this blog post by Diamond Geezer, in honour of the truly noble family of Brian Dorling, killed last year at Bow roundabout. Mr Griffin, should Brian Dorling have "paid up" as well, do you think? I think he has already. And his widow just as much.

Time to make a noise, I think. Saturday 28th April. Hyde Park Corner. 11am. Be there.