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“I don’t want blood on my hands” says LTDA general secretary, who accepts cyclists need segregation

London taxi drivers have given their backing to the Mayor Boris Johnson’s Crossrail for the Bikes scheme after the threat of seeking a judicial review of the plans was dropped, with the general secretary of the main body representing them saying “I don’t want blood on my hands.”

After the board of Transport for London (TfL) approved the plans for the two segregated routes crossing the heart of the capital in January, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) said it planned to seek a judicialreview of the consultation process.

It is thought any such move would have been backed by businesses opposed to the project and who had called for the consultation period to be further extended, the most prominent among them the property firm, Canary Wharf Group.

The deadline to apply for such a review was yesterday, despite LTDA general secretary Steve McNamara telling the Evening Standard that he had been “confident” that the legal action would have succeeded.

But he acknowledged that taking that step would have simply led to TfL revising its plans for the two routes – from the Westway to Tower Hill, and from King’s Cross to Elephant & Castle – and the £47 million project would ultimately go ahead.

He said: “At the end of the day, does London need protected cycling? Yes it does.

“What we don’t want to do is issue a judicial review and all we achieve is delaying that by a year, and some cyclist gets killed in Parliament Square.

“I don’t want that. I don’t want blood on my hands.”

TfL is carrying out the work in phases, with construction getting under way on the Victoria Embankment on the east-west route today, with Tower Hill, Lancaster Gate and Parliament Square following later this year.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

19 comments

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bikebot [2120 posts] 2 years ago
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Call me a cynic, but right now I'm wondering what the LTDA have quietly been promised.

On the other hand, maybe Steve McNamara's sudden discovery of a conscience is credible...  24

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mrmo [2092 posts] 2 years ago
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bikebot wrote:

Call me a cynic, but right now I'm wondering what the LTDA have quietly been promised.

Maybe they have been given the right to use the garden bridge?

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Mystery Machine [44 posts] 2 years ago
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It's good to see an apparent change of heart by Mr McNamara.

If only we could see the same from the likes of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea councils in relation to installing protected infrastructure.

I guess they don't mind having cyclists' (and other vulnerable users') blood on their hands, which is why they continue to block safe routes.

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AJ101 [276 posts] 2 years ago
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Well done Steve McNamara, representing your members and also doing the right thing for London. It takes a real leader to be able to change tack midway through.

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Ramuz [264 posts] 2 years ago
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Great news (unless I'm naïve).

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jacknorell [969 posts] 2 years ago
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Did hell just freeze over?

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emishi55 [143 posts] 2 years ago
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Watch them try it on for the West End Project.

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Ush [901 posts] 2 years ago
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It's easy. Taxi drivers recognise that nasty little bike ghettos which force cyclists off the roads are in their own interest.

Instead of a real solution which sees motorized vehicle use drastically reduced they hope to eke out another 20 years of privilege.

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velovoice [23 posts] 2 years ago
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Wow, what a way to spin a U-turn.

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bikebot [2120 posts] 2 years ago
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Ush wrote:

It's easy. Taxi drivers recognise that nasty little bike ghettos which force cyclists off the roads are in their own interest.

Instead of a real solution which sees motorized vehicle use drastically reduced they hope to eke out another 20 years of privilege.

Taxi drivers prosper rather well in cities which drastically reduce private motor car use. See Singapore.

I look forward to using this nasty little ghetto next year, away from the endless construction vehicles and with its magnificent views across the Thames!

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Bez [608 posts] 2 years ago
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Ush wrote:

Instead of a real solution which sees motorized vehicle use drastically reduced they hope to eke out another 20 years of privilege.

What is this "real solution" of which you speak? People still need to move around the city, so how do you "drastically reduce motorized vehicle use"? Invent a teleporter? Force people to live under their desks at work? Kill half the population?

Or is the solution to enable people to use non-motorized transport safely and conveniently?

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Paul99 [26 posts] 2 years ago
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As a regular London commuter the thing that worries me about this is that if something now happens to a cyclist on one of the roads with segregated lanes (i.e. the cyclist is on the road, not in the cycle lane), then it's going to be instantly labelled the cyclist's fault, so what he's actually done is realised it benefits his taxi drivers who will still drive dangerously if cyclists happen to not be using the segregated lanes but feel like they have carte blanche to do so because cyclists "should be in the bike lane"- and believe me, this will happen because the volume of commuters is going to mean a lot of the guys who like to ride quickly and not pootle along will opt to use the main part of the road with the faster traffic anyway. Controversial, but this is why I have mixed feelings about the segregated infrastructure because in the eyes of the other road users, it gives them more right to the roads and the cyclists less right. Attitude readjustment through things like presumed liability is the only way I really see any major change happening.

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Henry Dalton [3 posts] 2 years ago
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If, as research indicates, removing road-space from cars to create cycle infrastructure reduces the number of private cars on the road then this will in turn reduce congestion which is in the interest of the taxi drivers. This is a common sense decision.

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fukawitribe [1923 posts] 2 years ago
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Paul99 wrote:

As a regular London commuter the thing that worries me about this is that if something now happens to a cyclist on one of the roads with segregated lanes (i.e. the cyclist is on the road, not in the cycle lane), then it's going to be instantly labelled the cyclist's fault, so what he's actually done is realised it benefits his taxi drivers who will still drive dangerously if cyclists happen to not be using the segregated lanes but feel like they have carte blanche to do so because cyclists "should be in the bike lane"- and believe me, this will happen because the volume of commuters is going to mean a lot of the guys who like to ride quickly and not pootle along will opt to use the main part of the road with the faster traffic anyway.

I'm sure there will be some element of this however considering various attributes such as experience, bike-craft and handling ability, road craft etc... if you take the set of people involved in KSI incidents in London (and probably other urban areas) and the set of people who don't want to pootle and intersect them, I wonder how big that resulting set is ?

They are also trying to encourage a lot more people to use bikes, in all likely-hood less skilled or experienced on average than those you're worried about - people who just want to get about and aren't worried about their speed.

Paul99 wrote:

Controversial, but this is why I have mixed feelings about the segregated infrastructure because in the eyes of the other road users, it gives them more right to the roads and the cyclists less right.

Undoubtably some will feel that way, but I don't think it's an compelling argument against the introduction of more segregated cycleways if that brings more people on them. As more people use them, the chances of the motorist also being a cyclist may also increase - which may partially improve things... probably a long way off on that, but it's a start.

I'd argue that Captain Kirk is probably wrong in this case...

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Paul99 [26 posts] 2 years ago
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fukawitribe wrote:
Paul99 wrote:

As a regular London commuter the thing that worries me about this is that if something now happens to a cyclist on one of the roads with segregated lanes (i.e. the cyclist is on the road, not in the cycle lane), then it's going to be instantly labelled the cyclist's fault, so what he's actually done is realised it benefits his taxi drivers who will still drive dangerously if cyclists happen to not be using the segregated lanes but feel like they have carte blanche to do so because cyclists "should be in the bike lane"- and believe me, this will happen because the volume of commuters is going to mean a lot of the guys who like to ride quickly and not pootle along will opt to use the main part of the road with the faster traffic anyway.

I'm sure there will be some element of this however considering various attributes such as experience, bike-craft and handling ability, road craft etc... if you take the set of people involved in KSI incidents in London (and probably other urban areas) and the set of people who don't want to pootle and intersect them, I wonder how big that resulting set is ?

They are also trying to encourage a lot more people to use bikes, in all likely-hood less skilled or experienced on average than those you're worried about - people who just want to get about and aren't worried about their speed.

Paul99 wrote:

Controversial, but this is why I have mixed feelings about the segregated infrastructure because in the eyes of the other road users, it gives them more right to the roads and the cyclists less right.

Undoubtably some will feel that way, but I don't think it's an compelling argument against the introduction of more segregated cycleways if that brings more people on them. As more people use them, the chances of the motorist also being a cyclist may also increase - which may partially improve things... probably a long way off on that, but it's a start.

I'd argue that Captain Kirk is probably wrong in this case...

You make excellent points sir, and I agree entirely. My fear here is that the segregated lanes are hailed as THE solution by those who don't understand the nuances and all the sides of the argument and the issues, meaning that the need to address other problems like driver attitude get sidelined.

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pmanc [209 posts] 2 years ago
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Paul99 wrote:

Controversial, but this is why I have mixed feelings about the segregated infrastructure because in the eyes of the other road users, it gives them more right to the roads and the cyclists less right. Attitude readjustment through things like presumed liability is the only way I really see any major change happening.

You often see arguments like this from fans of "vehicular cycling", but to me it seems unlikely that taking space from private motorised traffic and allocating it to dedicated cycling facilities will marginalise cycling. If anything it should be a clear statement to drivers that they are less of a priority, and cycling is more acceptable and promoted. Do you think Dutch cyclists worry that the high-quality safe cycle facilities they have undermine their rights?

*If* it turns out that the new cycleways are so popular that they get congested then it will be a win of sorts - it will justify the decision to install them, and highlight the fact there should be more (wider) cycleways.

As for presumed liability, it's been discussed elsewhere that while it's not a bad idea, it does little in practice to change attitudes. Drivers don't go out intending to run over cyclists (usually) and all drivers think they're more competent than average.

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bikebot [2120 posts] 2 years ago
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Paul99 wrote:

Attitude readjustment through things like presumed liability is the only way I really see any major change happening.

In what way will presumed liability adjust attitudes?

I'm a strong supporter of presumed liability, but there does seem to be a level of misunderstanding of what it is, and what it can do on both sides of the argument. We have both the Daily Fail headbangers who think innocent motorists will be locked up and some cycling campaigners who think drivers will suddenly feel a significant extra duty of care.

Presumed liability will probably make almost no difference to the attitude of drivers. There's no real evidence to suggest it has done so in other countries, in fact the causality seems to be the opposite way around. The countries that already have drivers with a better attitude towards other road users are more likely to introduce it because of public support.

What it will do is ensure compensation for those who are injured or suffer other losses from the burden put upon society by motor vehicles.

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P3t3 [386 posts] 2 years ago
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Paul99 wrote:

... because cyclists "should be in the bike lane"- and believe me, this will happen because the volume of commuters is going to mean a lot of the guys who like to ride quickly and not pootle along will opt to use the main part of the road with the faster traffic anyway. .

I'm sure it will fall victim to its own success. Particularly in the bits they made too narrow to please the road traffic concerns.

But if the faster bike commuters can't use the bike infra then the bike infra isn't up to the job. On main/busy routes its got to be able to let people overtake and travel at 20mph on bikes.

Its going to be difficult for the cycling pressure groups to get this accross. If "we built it and they don't use it" comes up then the response needs to be "we told you it needed to be higher capacity". Lets face it - they have added more lanes to roads when they got full so the same will have to happen to these routes.

Before we get to that point lets wait and see how popular this route really is - I hope its really successful.

Back on topic: I suspect the cabbies union has quietly realised that this is goign to be a road where they won't have to fight with bikes all the time and told the boss to shut up.

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jacknorell [969 posts] 2 years ago
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P3t3 wrote:

But if the faster bike commuters can't use the bike infra then the bike infra isn't up to the job. On main/busy routes its got to be able to let people overtake and travel at 20mph on bikes.

In countries with high levels of cycle commuting/active transport, this is not what a commute looks like. But rather a steady, uninterrupted 12 mph or so, which given the infrastructure is quite quick (i.e. green wave for bikes).

And if the infra lets those who now don't dare cycle to work etc do so (grannies, kids, unfit people, those who aren't willing to risk their lives every single ride...) then it's highly successful.

I'm a (sorta-ish) quick commuter, but the attitude that my and your style of riding needs to be catered for blows: It's just as entitled as drivers going "It's my road because I pay Road Tax".

[Edit: I agree with the rest of your posting.]