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.
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.