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.
Simon joined road.cc 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.