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Cab firm boss addresses riders as row over his comments about cyclists continues

Wet pavements didn’t deter dozens of London cyclists from lying on the ground outside Addison Lee’s North London head office yesterday evening in a ‘Die-In’ organised in protest at comments about cyclists made by the minicab firm’s founder and chairman, John Griffin.

Last week, Mr Griffin's column in the company magazine Add Lib had sparked outrage in the cycling community and also attracted criticism from politicians as well as the mainstream press, including blogs in The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail. In the backlash, a number of companies have cancelled their accounts with the business, while a website, Boycott Addison Lee, is urging others to follow suit.

In a busy week for Mr Griffin, he also got in to a legal row with Transport for London (TfL) after writing to all of Addison Lee's drivers telling them to start using London bus lanes and that the company would pay any fines incurred, a move which led TfL to seek a high court injunction against Mr Griffin's company.

Mr Griffin, who as well as his tussles with TfL previously took on the  former Labour Government over the M4 bus lane, is a man obviously used to fighting his corner, and seemingly unfazed by a large crowed of 'dead' cyclists on his doorstep emerged  from the offices to address the crowd.

One cyclist who attended said on her blog, Help! My Chain Came Off..., that Mr Griffin “read out his latest article,” adding, “I couldn't tell you what he said because he didn't shout it out loudly but I think its fair to say he is trying desperately to climb out of that humungous big hole he has got himself in.”

Another attendee, Mark Skrzypczyk, posted footage of the Die-In to YouTube.

The Die-In had been organised by Beth Anderson, who said afterwards on the event’s Facebook page: “For me, tonight was something truly special. A group of cyclists went to Addison Lee's headquarters with a message and they delivered it.

“Unfortunately it wasn't a huge surprise to hear John Griffin repeating the same old lines but his arguments are essentially ill-founded and based on the idea that the roads are, and can only be, dangerous. It was important to tell him that they are made even more dangerous by him.

“This event has blown me away and I can only say what I've said before; that I'm very proud to be a cyclist in London and I'm very proud to have been there with you all tonight,” she continued.

“My deepest thanks to all of you that came, and all of you that supported this event and the many others that are happening at the moment. Things can, and will, change and that is down to you!”

Over the past week and a half, first in reaction to Mr Griffin’s instruction to his drivers to use bus lanes and then as news of his comments about cyclists emerged, many pointed out that Addison Lee cabs themselves presented one of the biggest dangers to cyclists on the capital’s roads.

Amid the furore provoked by Mr Griffin’s comments, that at least doesn’t seem to have changed. On Help! My Chain Came Off…, blogger Jemma Leahy concluded her post by saying, “Funnily enough, on my cycle home I got cut up by an Addison Lee cab,” while on the Die-In’s Facebook page, another cyclist who had gone along, Suzy Harrison, commented, “I got cut up by an Addison Lee cab on my cycle back to Brixton!”

Thanks to Benjamin Hughes for the lead photo
 

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.

16 comments

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Zav [36 posts] 3 years ago
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i wonder why mr griffin stops at bus lanes? addison lee cabs can also be found in bike lanes and advanced stop boxes

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veseunr [256 posts] 3 years ago
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Why stop there? ..... pavements are ideal for taxis too!

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Coleman [331 posts] 3 years ago
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Well done to all who attended. Although this is a separate issue to the recent protests in London there does seem to be some real momentum for the general cause of safer cycling.

What a complete pillock that bloke is. I love the idea of him gonig back into his office and thinking he hadn't thought the idea through.

My experience of AL drivers is not that bad but in general mini cabs have awful drivers. Apart from the boss's idiotic rants and directives perhaps AL cars are just more identifiable than the usual 'under the arches' mini cabs?

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 3 years ago
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Next from John Griffin: keep death off the road, drive on the pavement!

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 3 years ago
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Perhaps if people who are cut up by the Addison Lee vehicles could note the registration numbers of the cabs and then complain directly to the firm stating the time and the place of the incident this would also pass on a message. I expect Mr Griffin is now wondering how he can get out of this mess he has created. On his past record, I doubt it'll be through by recognising that his original comments were based on ignorance of the facts.

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antonio [1102 posts] 3 years ago
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Mr Griffin appears to accept the old adage 'there's no such thing as bad publicity', perhaps he will eventually change his mind.

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kaptnkrunch [57 posts] 3 years ago
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What's a flood warden?

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Simon_MacMichael [2442 posts] 3 years ago
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kaptnkrunch wrote:

What's a flood warden?

Someone who has been paying close attention to the weather forecast, I imagine.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/uk-weather-three-inches-of-rain-803523

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sheridan [5 posts] 3 years ago
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I hope people are going to the Met Police RoadSafe website to report infractions (not just from Addison Lee): http://www.met.police.uk/roadsafelondon/

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A V Lowe [567 posts] 3 years ago
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Don't forget that Mr Griffin doesn't actually employ the guys who drive his cars - they lease the cars from him, and have to take the jobs his company allocates, in order to make the money to pay the lease costs. He can thus distance himself from driver behaviour (and drop a driver like a lead balloon if there is a problem)

Unlike taxis (with metered time and distance) they are paid per job. More jobs = more ability to pay for the cab and the fuel and perhaps a living wage. Unlike HGV and PSV the drivers hours are not regulated, and we've largely stamped out the per trip payment system for construction site HGV work, which made them so dangerous.

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Paul M [350 posts] 3 years ago
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Thanks to AV Lowe for the info on HGVs payment per trip - I didn't know that had largely ended - but it is a fair point that AL driver behavour is conditioned by the way they are paid. I suppose you coudl say that is the "Nuremberg defence" but to be fair, AL drivers are not bad people, they are just pressurised to behave badly.

And "self employed" is a laugh. A hackney cabbie is genuinely self-employed - he owns (or occasionally leases) his own vehicle but his income is received directly from fare paying passengers who he is unlikely ever to deal with again. An AL driver's terms of engagement would, I would have thought, be ruled to be employment under the indicia of the "master-servant relationship" developed in court cases such as Fall v Hitchen. That would require AL to pay full social security contributions, which would give drivers a safety net for unemployment or sickness, and to apply PAYE to their tax - as it is, I suspect a driver could simply up sticks and return to his own country in central Europe at the drop of a hat.

Which is another point. I am sure they have proper driver qualifications recognised under EU harmonisation principles, and most that I have met speak passable English, but they don't know London like the backs of their hands, like a cabbie does.

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Simon E [2539 posts] 3 years ago
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Well done everyone who attended and/or blogged, tweeted or somehow spread the word.

The event itself may or may not have any effect on Mr Griffin's attitude but I sense a growing willingness to make a fuss and be proactive on road safety among cyclists, and I think the message is starting to get through to other road users.

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InvisibleVisibleMan [25 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm glad there was a good turn-out and sorry my work circumstances prevented my getting there in time. I have, however, just blogged about some of the general issues involved here, should anyone care to think more about the relationship between cycling and money: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/general-theory-of-cycl...

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TiNuts [97 posts] 3 years ago
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Paul M wrote:

AL drivers are not bad people, they are just pressurised to behave badly.........And "self employed" is a laugh. A hackney cabbie is genuinely self-employed -

The argument doesn't really hold up because, in my experience, Hackney Cab drivers are a far worse menace than AL drivers. Oh, and try complaining to the PCO about their behaviour and see how far you get. At least Griffin came out of his castle to make a statement to the gathered "dead". Not, by all accounts, that any body could hear what he actually said.

Imagine if a Die-In were tried outside the PCO building. The only sound would be that evil diesel revving rumble of approaching ranks of salt-of-the-earth cabbies readying themselves to wreak their revenge..........
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tommy2p [86 posts] 3 years ago
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Just get him to ride a bike in London for a week

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bikefreak [1 post] 3 years ago
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I have a cousin who works in insurance, they tell me that most of the insurance for both hackney and Private Hire has not been validated-has been given on information provided by the driver, taken on face value, so previous claims experience is checked etc.

It's a huge problem that the authorities are aware of, but will not act on.

Thewost culprits are sub-hired vehcles, not owned by the driver individually, or the Taxi-PH Company.

Its estimated that circa 5,000 drivers in TFL fit into this type of category including Chauffeur driven and executive vehicles.  39
Bikefreak!