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Backlash to minicab firm's plans to challenge bus lane ban + chairman's comments on cyclists ...

Cyclists in London plan to stage a ‘Die-In’ on the evening of next Monday 23 April outside the Euston head office of minicab firm Addison Lee in protest at the company chairman telling his drivers to break the law by driving in bus lanes, as well anti-cyclist comments he made in a column in the company magazine.

Addison Lee believes that banning minicabs from bus lanes is anti-competitive, since licensed taxi cabs – also known as black cabs – are allowed to use them, and has been granted a judicial review on the issue.

Addison Lee’s action attracted attention from the national press and criticism from cycling and road safety campaigners, but the backlash against the company stepped up a gear last night when news emerged of the column that Mr Griffin had penned for the company’s magazine, Add Lib, reported here on road.cc yesterday evening.

Within a short time of a picture of the page on which it appeared being posted to Twitter, news had spread throughout the cycling community in London and beyond, and a number of people – presumably those in a position to do so – tweeted to say that they were cancelling their accounts with the company. Team Sky's Mark Cavendish was one of those who said he wouldn't be using Addison Lee… in fact the tone of his comment suggested this was a decision he'd made some time ago, "Ironically, I downright refuse to enter an #AddisonLee vehicle, after some of my worst car journeys were driven by them", the Manx Missile told his followers on Twitter.

Last weekend, Transport for London (TfL) condemned a letter that the company’s chairman and founder John Griffin had sent to its 2,500 self-employed drivers in which he told them to drive in bus lanes and that the company would indemnify them against any fines.

The Facebook page set up by London cyclist Beth Anderson for Monday’s protest at 6pm outside the company’s office at 35-37 William Road, NW1 3ER, says:

“Most London cyclists will have probably heard about John Griffin, boss of minicab firm Addison Lee, instructing his drivers to use the bus lanes and that he will personally indemnify them against prosecution.

“Minicabs cannot legally use the bus lanes and, although a testament to the poor standard of provision for cyclists in London, this is one place where a cyclist can get some respite from the often mind-bogglingly awful driving seen from many Addison Lee drivers.

“Also in a further move, John Griffin has also published a factually inaccurate and victim-blaming rant about cyclists that Dr. Robert Davis, Chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, dubbed a "display of self-pitying bigotry and victim-blaming" and that "above all, [this is] the kind of incendiary message that exacerbates rule and law breaking behaviour by motorists." [http://bit.ly/IqDxmj]

“In a time where cyclists are fighting to be heard and warning of the dangers of the roads John Griffin has decided to instead focus on his own profit above the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

“Please join us for a mass 'die-in' at 6pm on Monday the 23rd April outside of Addison Lee's London offices. We will meet at the junction of Stanhope Street/William Road then head to their office to deliver a letter to John Griffin of Addison Lee and stage a 'die-in' by lying down outside the office to highlight the real danger his drivers pose to cyclists and pedestrians. It's short notice, but this is an event that's happening now, so acting quickly is important!”

“Make-up and fake blood welcome!

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.