Boris Johnson admits riding bike without rear light

London's Mayor caught out by cabbie... also repeats rickshaw ban pledge

by Simon_MacMichael   November 5, 2013  

Boris Johnson (picture credit Prudential RideLondon)

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has admitted to riding without a functioning rear light – and has promised to buy a new battery as a matter of priority to ensure it doesn’t happen again. He has also repeated his vow to ban rickshaw’s from the city’s streets.

The politician was pulled up on his rear-light faux pas by a caller to his regular Ask Boris phone-in show on London radio station, LBC 97.3.

Caller Mark from Twickenham – a taxi driver, as it happens – told Mr Johnson:"I passed you last night in Newgate Street. You need a light on the back of your bike."

The Mayor replied: "I've got to 'fess up to that. A battery was temporarily pegged out on my back light and I'm going to have to put my hands up to that.

"I had a front light that was working. I was cycling without a functioning rear light.

"Mark's got me bang to rights. I'm not going to deny it. But I can tell you it's all hands on deck trying to get a battery into that back light today."

The Mayor was also pressed on an issue he has touched on before – banning rickshaws, or pedicabs, from the capital’s streets.

Mr Johnson said that the unlicensed vehicles caused a hazard to other road users including cyclists, but said that as matters stand, the issue was out of his control.

Quizzed as to whether he would ban the vehicles if he had the power, he replied: “We would. I don't want to be hostile to the rickshaw trade, but it is my view that they are an encumbrance on the roads.

"I am a libertarian, I think that on the whole if people want to ply their trade on the public highway, they should be allowed to.

"But I happen to think that rickshaws are a menace and, speaking as a cyclist, they push you out into the traffic where you don't want to be, they go at the wrong speed.

"I can perfectly well understand what I very, very often hear from the taxi trade that they don't see why they are on the road.

"We are taking steps to regulate them. I cannot, however, promise an immediate solution."

Last December, the London Evening Standard reported that Mr Johnson had pledged to ban the vehicles, but added that Transport for London did not have the power to do so as the law stood.

In a submission to a Law Commission consultation regarding potential reform of licensing regulations relating to taxis, TfL called for pedicabs to be subject to similar laws as those applying to taxis and minicabs.

13 user comments

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Meanwhile on a "cycle superhighway" another human being lost their life.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
5th November 2013 - 19:21

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Give him a ticket..... Law is law.

posted by Rouboy [61 posts]
5th November 2013 - 20:03

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The Mayor replied: "I've got to 'fess up to that. A battery was temporarily pegged out on my back light and I'm going to have to put my hands up to that.

"I had a front light that was working. I was cycling without a functioning rear light.

"Mark's got me bang to rights. I'm not going to deny it. But I can tell you it's all hands on deck trying to get a battery into that back light today."

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Yo, yo! Seemz like dat Boris iz like tryin 2 get down wit da kidz speak, innit! Rolling Eyes

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
5th November 2013 - 21:25

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from the sound of things Borris should concentrate on CS2 Safety Instead of spending time on R Rickshaws. Get a sense of perspective will y' a Waiting

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [186 posts]
5th November 2013 - 22:08

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For the majority of the population that don't live in London, what's the problem with rickshaws?

posted by FMOAB [229 posts]
5th November 2013 - 22:30

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FMOAB wrote:
For the majority of the population that don't live in London, what's the problem with rickshaws?

As described in the article. They're a bit hazardous to cyclists but mostly they annoy taxi cab drivers (taking their trade) who complain about their poor maneuvers. This is a complaint from taxi drivers! The very same men and women who think nothing of doing sudden u-turns in the road and pulling over to the curb in their cabs without checking their mirrors.

There's much bigger problems on London roads other than rickshaws but they're an easy target. And Boris likes easy. Like painting roads blue instead of actually creating a bike lane. That kind of thing! Not bad for a so-called cycling Mayor.

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

sm's picture

posted by sm [334 posts]
5th November 2013 - 22:44

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Who would the tourists buy their drugs and prostitutes from if we got rid of the rickshaws?

posted by belgravedave [164 posts]
6th November 2013 - 0:28

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Surely the rickshaw is a completely valid form of transport? Shouldn't Boris be seeking to encourage clean, green forms of transport?

I can see a case for regulating the industry as the drivers charge the public, however it seems that the rationale for banning them is that they annoy black cab drivers. The good old salt of the earth, bigoted, self entitled, dangerous warriors of our roads. How about banning them or at least their inexplicable privilege to use bus lanes.

Also, carry backup lights.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [141 posts]
6th November 2013 - 12:33

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northstar wrote:
Meanwhile on a "cycle superhighway" another human being lost their life.

There was also a cyclist pinned by a left turning coach at the junction of Theobalds & Southampton Row

https://twitter.com/veloevol/status/397843912188231681

posted by zanf [420 posts]
6th November 2013 - 12:57

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No I think fair is fair. Black cabbies are highly regulated. They have to have the knowledge, a specific and expensive vehicle, have no criminal record, be CRB checked regularly, have to display their photo id cab licence prominently plus a number for complaints. Their meters are checked and calibrated, their vehicles have to undergo enhanced MOT and roadworthiness tests. That's all done to protect the public so that you know that when you get into a black cab that the driver knows the quickest way to get to your destination, charges on the meter fairly, is insured, the vehicle is safe, and he hasn't got a string of criminal convictions.

Putting myself in that position I would get annoyed with people taking paying passengers on rickshaws with none of those safeguards.

I wouldn't ban rickshaws but I would make them conform to the protections above. Set prices, insurance, safety checks and drivers without criminal convictions with some kind of licence.

Now that would be fair.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [505 posts]
6th November 2013 - 14:50

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Oh the inhumanity of riding one time at night without a rear light. Yes, it is illegal and unsafe but do we all have to be so damn hard on each other? Cut someone some slack

posted by jarredscycling [436 posts]
6th November 2013 - 15:22

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jarredscycling wrote:
Oh the inhumanity of riding one time at night without a rear light. Yes, it is illegal and unsafe but do we all have to be so damn hard on each other? Cut someone some slack

It would be easy to cut him some slack for having cycled once without a proper, legal light if he had had some sort of cheapo blinky as a spare. I bought one of those for less than a pound last week. But you're right that the bit about the lights is a bit of a non-story. The idea that the rickshaws are going "at the wrong speed" worries me more. If we get a cycling revolution and London's streets are suddenly abuzz with hordes of cyclists aged from eight to eighty, will Boris moan and groan about the ones who travel at the "wrong" speed? And which ones will that be - the fast ones, the slow ones, all of them?

posted by bambergbike [84 posts]
7th November 2013 - 17:48

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I've taken my lights with me, gone to put them on and nothing.

That's the problem with lights, rechargeable or otherwise. In fact one of my lights drowned during my commute. Would you fine me? I would hope not, but it's just one of the continuing impracticalities of policing cyclists. Given that I've had that experience I would tend to give Boris a break.

On the other side I do think the rickshaws are a menace. They should be limited in their scope of travel. I think they are anyway as they don't seem to go any faster than 6mph. They are such an impractical and hazardous way to get around London I'm surprised anyone chooses them. They are worse in winter of course too! I would also say they and duck tours can shove off. But that's my deeply held view point from within.

Purely on the basis of how we normally regulate these things, and given that they are a public form of transport they should be properly licensed and driver checks made.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1083 posts]
7th November 2013 - 18:04

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