A video has emerged of an outburst last week by Boris Johnson, aimed at a black cabbie who swore at him. Boris swore back, and that’s the story, not that a licenced cabbie was abusive on a street.
Unusually, I have sympathy for Boris on this. He works hard, albeit not at the jobs he should be doing, and he is presumably under a lot of stress.
I also have sympathy for cabbies. It’s true that black cabbies have been treated badly over Uber being allowed in London and there has been insufficient police and Transport for London action to stop illegal minicabs which hit the black cab trade’s profits as well as make life more dangerous for us all, but as someone who also gets shouted at by cabbies, I’m fed up.
I’d better say straight away that I love black cabs. I use them about once a month to get home from a late evening event and feel completely safe once inside. (I’ve even got into trouble for using black cabs too often in the Evening Standard).
So when I say something negative about cabbies, it is balanced by my belief in their value and professionalism.
However, there is little reciprocation.
The frequent accusation when I’m on my bike is that ‘you cyclists’ don’t obey the law/cycle dangerously/cycle on the pavement.
Of course that’s true of some stupid selfish cyclists. But I stop patiently at red lights. And whereas once I was often left waiting alone, now I’m often in the midst of a peloton of well mannered legal cyclists.
The Met’s Operation Safeway has probably had an impact on the way most people cycle and I welcome the change.
By contrast, just in the last two weeks, I’ve seen two black cabbies red light jump, one pull into and through an advance stop line when the light was already red, and one who deliberately pulled out from the kerb in front of me when I was cycling in a cycle lane.
Not to mention other infringements.
I’ve started to take licence numbers so I can name and shame on Twitter.
I’m left wondering if the old fashioned pride that cabbies once quite rightly took in their jobs has turned into an arrogance about their being the only people on the roads who really understand conditions?
If that’s so, then Transport for London and the Met have a serious job of education to do.