Mayoral candidate calls for cycle awareness training for London's cab drivers

Green Party's Jenny Jones says drivers need to be brought on side to make roads safer for cyclists

by Simon_MacMichael   April 21, 2011  

Taxi and Cyclist copyright Simon MacMichael.jpg

Jenny Jones, the Green Party’s candidate in next year’s London mayoral elections has called for the city’s black cab drivers to be given cycle awareness training similar to that now being provided to bus and lorry drivers.

In a statement released earlier this week, she said: “Both black cabs and cyclists are a big feature of London life and they really must get used to sharing the road. Black cabs have a job to do and can take cyclists by surprise when they have to manoeuvre quickly to pick up a fare.

“Cyclists often need to take up space in the middle of the road & get in the way of faster traffic, in order to do their own manoeuvres safely. We need to increase the funding for cycle training, but we also need to ensure that everyone who drives for a living in London understands how they can help keep cyclists safe.”

The Greater London Assembly Member issued her appeal to the Public Carriage Office, which licenses and oversees London’s taxis, in the wake of a storm over comments made by her in an interview published in the London Evening Standard in which she described how she had twice been forced off the road by taxis while cycling, and had also been the recipient of abuse by drivers when on her bike.

However, she told road.cc that the article had focused on what it saw as an ‘us versus them’ issue, thereby ignoring her main message, which is that cyclists, taxi drivers and those in charge of large vehicles such as HGVs and buses need to develop a greater understanding of each other’s use of the road in order to share it safely and protect bike riders.

The article in the Standard, published on Monday, quoted Steve Mcnamara of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, who said: "This is not the best way to start an election campaign by making such a generalisation about 24,000 licensed taxi drivers. It's like me saying that all cyclists are Lycra-wearing loons based on one or two bad experiences."

But Ms Jones, formerly Deputy Mayor to Ken Livingstone, insists that she is not making a generalisation about taxi drivers, whom she acknowledges have a difficult job, having to process a huge amount of information as well as dealing with the stress of spending the working day in London traffic.

She also told road.cc that she believes they are a “great tourist attraction and very efficient form of transport – assuming you can afford them!”

However, just as there are some cyclists who jump red lights or ride on the pavement – both issues that Ms Jones is determined to tackle, as well as the problem of people riding at speed along the Regent’s canal towpath – she believes that the attitudes of a minority of taxi drivers detract from the behaviour of the majority of them.

Ms Jones is currently seeking to establish a dialogue with representatives of taxi drivers – she is yet to hear back from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association after she decided to take up an offer made by Mr Mcnamara on the radio on Tuesday for him to show her first-hand the problems taxi drivers believe they face with cyclists.

And while she has been invited by the RMT union to discuss with them the issues cyclists face in sharing the road with black cabs, she is waiting for a date to be set by them for her to visit.

In the meantime, she maintains that her principal concern is wanting “cycling in London to feel safer, and you need all professional drivers on your side to make that work.”
 

4 user comments

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While I'm in total agreement that Bus, HGV, LGV, and Taxi drivers could do with more awareness and respect for cyclists, I see far more cyclists pulling stupid, thoughtless, and dangerous maneuvers on my daily commute.

posted by Matt_S [186 posts]
21st April 2011 - 9:15

1 Like

I'm with Jenny Jones on this, too many of them seem to view cyclist as an anoyance that they try and bully off the road.

The two most common problems are:
Cutting into the bus lane when traffic slows in the normal lane when there are cyclists there.
Seeing someone hailing them and pulling straight into the curb without checking for cyclists on their inside.

Of course there was this case only a little while ago:
http://road.cc/content/news/25146-london-cyclist-strangled-taxi-driver-c...

Quote:
Ms Jones is currently seeking to establish a dialogue with representatives of taxi drivers – she is yet to hear back from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association after she decided to take up an offer made by Mr Mcnamara on the radio on Tuesday for him to show her first-hand the problems taxi drivers believe they face with cyclists.

Sounds like Mr Mcnamara is regretting sounding off like that on the radio.

posted by thereverent [313 posts]
21st April 2011 - 9:24

1 Like

So does Jenny Jones believe they are a “great tourist attraction and very efficient form of transport” or is she just saying that so they don't react like Steve Mcnamara?

Why are taxis king of the road when they carry so few passengers? (The Guardian)

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2029 posts]
21st April 2011 - 13:36

2 Likes

Like all forms of transport, some taxis are driven by idiots. Lots aren't, but they all get tarred with the same brush. I must pass 30-50 black cabs each day on my ride in to work. Occasionally one of them drives like an idiot and puts me in danger. For the most part, they drive reasonably well and appear to be more aware (on average) than van drivers and HGVs as to what is going on around them.

I think the training is a good idea. But then I think all drivers should receive cyclist awareness training.

posted by step-hent [697 posts]
21st April 2011 - 14:07

1 Like