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London cyclists plan Addison Lee 'Die-in'

Backlash to minicab firm's plans to challenge bus lane ban + chairman's comments on cyclists ...

Cyclists in London plan to stage a ‘Die-In’ on the evening of next Monday 23 April outside the Euston head office of minicab firm Addison Lee in protest at the company chairman telling his drivers to break the law by driving in bus lanes, as well anti-cyclist comments he made in a column in the company magazine.

Addison Lee believes that banning minicabs from bus lanes is anti-competitive, since licensed taxi cabs – also known as black cabs – are allowed to use them, and has been granted a judicial review on the issue.

Addison Lee’s action attracted attention from the national press and criticism from cycling and road safety campaigners, but the backlash against the company stepped up a gear last night when news emerged of the column that Mr Griffin had penned for the company’s magazine, Add Lib, reported here on yesterday evening.

Within a short time of a picture of the page on which it appeared being posted to Twitter, news had spread throughout the cycling community in London and beyond, and a number of people – presumably those in a position to do so – tweeted to say that they were cancelling their accounts with the company. Team Sky's Mark Cavendish was one of those who said he wouldn't be using Addison Lee… in fact the tone of his comment suggested this was a decision he'd made some time ago, "Ironically, I downright refuse to enter an #AddisonLee vehicle, after some of my worst car journeys were driven by them", the Manx Missile told his followers on Twitter.

Last weekend, Transport for London (TfL) condemned a letter that the company’s chairman and founder John Griffin had sent to its 2,500 self-employed drivers in which he told them to drive in bus lanes and that the company would indemnify them against any fines.

The Facebook page set up by London cyclist Beth Anderson for Monday’s protest at 6pm outside the company’s office at 35-37 William Road, NW1 3ER, says:

“Most London cyclists will have probably heard about John Griffin, boss of minicab firm Addison Lee, instructing his drivers to use the bus lanes and that he will personally indemnify them against prosecution.

“Minicabs cannot legally use the bus lanes and, although a testament to the poor standard of provision for cyclists in London, this is one place where a cyclist can get some respite from the often mind-bogglingly awful driving seen from many Addison Lee drivers.

“Also in a further move, John Griffin has also published a factually inaccurate and victim-blaming rant about cyclists that Dr. Robert Davis, Chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, dubbed a "display of self-pitying bigotry and victim-blaming" and that "above all, [this is] the kind of incendiary message that exacerbates rule and law breaking behaviour by motorists." []

“In a time where cyclists are fighting to be heard and warning of the dangers of the roads John Griffin has decided to instead focus on his own profit above the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

“Please join us for a mass 'die-in' at 6pm on Monday the 23rd April outside of Addison Lee's London offices. We will meet at the junction of Stanhope Street/William Road then head to their office to deliver a letter to John Griffin of Addison Lee and stage a 'die-in' by lying down outside the office to highlight the real danger his drivers pose to cyclists and pedestrians. It's short notice, but this is an event that's happening now, so acting quickly is important!”

“Make-up and fake blood welcome!

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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paulfrank | 12 years ago

 14 I can't believe it BBC Radio 4 have just given J*** G****** about 10 minutes of free advertising, and he was handing out cycling tips; I will come down off the ceiling in about an hour  14

andyspaceman | 12 years ago

I think it's interesting that he's offered to indemnify drivers against any prosecution, assuring them that driving in a bus lane is a non-endorsable offence.

He may be right, but driving in the bus lane alone is not the full picture.

I suspect that other offences, and incidents that involve minicabs whilst they are illegally in a bus lane will be treated with a much firmer stance than they otherwise would.

And if a driver was banned as a result of them being deemed culpable for a serious incident because they were present in a bus lane when they should not have been (e.g. a lesser charge being elevated to reckless driving because of the intent to break the law), can you see Mr griffin covering the lost earnings of the driver in question for the period of the ban?

Simon_MacMichael | 12 years ago

On the subject of Addison Lee's drivers, this piece in the Mirror three years ago is illuminating:

alotronic | 12 years ago

I'd like to propose a classic piece of vitriol as the theme song to the die in - 'Death on two legs' by Queen!

Vid here:

Lyrics pretty much sum up how I feel about this guy:

It seems to be dedicated to a manager who screwed them:

Your Friday night fun  1

monty dog | 12 years ago

Is this John Griffin's 'Ratner' moment? Let's hope so!

Jan1973 | 12 years ago

In 3 years of cycling I've had so many run-ins with Addison Lee drivers - being overtaken to turn left being the main one! These drivers are a menace and much worse than anyone else on the road. Me and black cab drivers are practically in bed with each other in comparison!

Also, the MD of the company I work for has cancelled the Addison Lee account in favour of Green Tomato cars.

james-o | 12 years ago

Years ago as a new-to-London rider I wondered why in a single ride I was cut-up by 2 different idiot drivers both with an Adidas logo on the back of the car )

Anyway, as a non-car owner with justification for using cabs more than most, this strikes me as a fine example of not understanding your market.

timbola | 12 years ago

OK, I finally have to comment that for the last 2 years Addison Lee vehicles have been the ones I fear most - even more than HGVs ! I am sure it is not true of all their drivers, but so many of them are seriously unpredictable to the extent I believe they wilfully force cyclists to take evasive action. Never mind the likes of our Manx Missile refusing to get in their vehicles, what about some of their own drivers now considering the same  39

notfastenough | 12 years ago

Would love to hear confirmation/otherwise on the net rumour that John Griffin is brother to Nick Griffin. Might explain a lot.

TurboJoe replied to notfastenough | 12 years ago

I was waiting for someone to go there!

Fair play.

OldRidgeback | 12 years ago

...and danger to the passengers in his firm's vehicles and other drivers also, given the crappy way many of them drive and which it would seem is encouraged from the top within the copmany.

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