MP tells how Addison Lee driver nudged her wheel because she wouldn't jump red light

Controversial London minicab firm had earlier promised to fit cameras to cars and provide cycle awareness training

by Simon_MacMichael   May 24, 2012  

John Griffin with I Pay Road Tax jersey (picture courtesy Carlton Reid)

An MP has written to London private hire firm Addison Lee to complain about an incident yesterday in which one of its drivers allegedly bumped her back wheel while she was waiting to cross a junction on her bike in London. The incident took place just weeks after the company promised to fit forward-facing video cameras to its vehicles and provide cycle awareness training to its drivers.

Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Wakefield and Shadow Environment Secretary, described the incident in a letter addressed to the firm’s chairman and founder John Griffin, the contents of which have also been published in The Times.

“I was interested to hear you a few weeks back on Radio 4, saying that your minicabs should be allowed into bus lanes,” she wrote.

“Perhaps you would be interested to hear my experience of one of your drivers today? I was at the junction of Bloomsbury Square and Tottenham Court Road, which is left turn only for vehicles, with an exception to go straight ahead for cycles. The lights changed and the road was blocked by a bus. I was on the right hand side of one of your vehicles and behind a van which could not move because of the bus.

“The lights changed back to red, the van ahead of me curled around the corner but I decided to wait at the red light rather than risk crossing the road as my sight line of any oncoming traffic was obscured. Your driver bumped into the back of my bicycle.

“When I observed that the lights had changed to red some five seconds earlier, he shouted and yelled at me.

“It was the first time I had been bumped in well over ten years. I am a slow, careful cyclist with excellent hand signals and always make eye contact with drivers.

“It was certainly an interesting experience to be barracked for obeying a red stop light when driver mythology has all cyclists down as light-jumping lunatics. Based on today’s experience, your drivers’ reputation for careful driving may be just as much of a myth.”

A spokesman for the firm told The Times: “Obviously this is not the standard of behavior we expect from our drivers.

“As with any complaint we receive, we will work to identify the driver involved and take appropriate action.

“Addison Lee invests heavily in driver training and is currently consulting with cycling groups to help us launch London’s first taxi/cyclist-specific training for our drivers later this year.”

Mr Griffin’s instruction last month to his firm’s drivers to illegally use bus lanes and subsequent comments he made about cyclists in the company magazine led to calls for a boycott of the firm as well as a demonstration outside its Euston headquarters.

In a subsequent meeting, the firm’s PR manager Alistair Laycock, told Carlton Reid, executive editor of BikeBiz and founder of the I Pay Road Tax website that the company planned to equip its vehicles with forward-facing cameras to provide independent evidence of incidents, as well as providing its drivers with cycle awareness training.

Given Ms Creagh’s story of her experience yesterday, many cyclists would argue that implementation of those promised measures can’t happen quickly enough.

10 user comments

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A minicab did the same thing to me when I waited (along with every other lane of traffic) for an ambulance to pass through a busy junction with full lights and siren. Of course, he was far too busy to let a little thing like a medical emergency slow him down.

posted by jackh [105 posts]
24th May 2012 - 13:18

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I'm sure the driver will get a slap on the wrist and be told not to get caught again.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2165 posts]
24th May 2012 - 14:30

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Pure fiction - Addison Lee drivers would dream of breaking the law.

mr-andrew's picture

posted by mr-andrew [295 posts]
24th May 2012 - 14:49

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Slight aside ... last week I scared the living daylights out of an Addison Lee taxi driver - he was waiting at a red light - I knocked on his window and he opened it, looking ashen-faced ... then I informed him that his offside brake light was not working and that he may not have noticed this ... the SHOCKED driver then asked me which side was that ! Looks like some of them need awareness training related to their own vehicles as well Smile

Cycling - not just a pastime or sport - free your soul on the open road.

timbola's picture

posted by timbola [207 posts]
24th May 2012 - 14:50

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I note that their App is back up to 4 stars....that needs amending surely Cool

posted by Blease [7 posts]
24th May 2012 - 15:02

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It's London, she should have jumped the red light!

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1940 posts]
24th May 2012 - 15:06

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Perhaps this item should be passed to the Daily Mail and the IAM. Who would no doubt report it completely differently

I am only as insane as the insanity around me (Jens Voigt)

posted by alronald [58 posts]
25th May 2012 - 23:04

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For God's sake just get them all off the road. They had their chance and blew it. I'm riding across London tomorrow and the last thing I need is knowing these idiots are still at large.

posted by Jon [35 posts]
25th May 2012 - 23:05

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Here in the States we are campaigning for Red as Stop, simply treating a red light as a stop sign, and Stop as Yield. Idaho already has the law on their books + Arizona I believe. "No COP! ,Ya don't stop. I picture London as having more people than Idaho and Arizona combined so may not be applicable......... Use your best judgement.

Ray Heisey's picture

posted by Ray Heisey [7 posts]
28th May 2012 - 18:24

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Addison Lee drivers don't have a reputation for careful driving. I find them some of the most cyclist-hostile drivers on the road, in marked contrast to black cab drivers.

This may be skewed by working and riding mainly in the City, I understand that black cabs are more aggressive further out, but my experience has always been that black cab drivers are much more aware of what's going on around them, whereas Addison Lee drivers always seem to be in a tearing hurry, routinely overtake far too close, cut cyclists off, pull out in front of fast-moving riders and so on.

And contacting Addison Lee has no noticeable effect. Having heard their chairman, I am not surprised. The bad attitude comes from the top.

posted by Guy Chapman [9 posts]
5th June 2012 - 9:11

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