Friday, 20 April 2012

Head of Addison Lee, John Griffin. Strung Up by His Own Chairman's Column

AddisonLee in-house magazine.
Image courtesy - Graham Lehr on twitter
John Griffin, boss of minicab firm Addison Lee has instructed his drivers to use the bus lanes and that he will personally indemnify them against prosecution. Minicabs can not legally use the bus lanes and TfL have threatened legal action in response to his comments. Despite this, further controversy comes in the shape of his Chairman's column in the latest Addison Lee in-house magazine.

"Green party candidates and others are up in arms about what they see as the murder of Cyclists on London Roads."
Cycling isn't just a Green party issue. It's one that all parties are concerned with, some more than others granted, and the UK's cyclists certinaly aren't all going to be voting green. Typical motor head way of marginalising an issue by labelling it "green".

“There has, as we all know, been a tremendous upsurge in cycling and cycling shops. This summer the roads will be thick with bicycles."
Cyclists numbers are increasing across the country hence the increased publicity surrounding cyclists and a lot of the rise in cycling, especially in London, is driven by middle-aged professionals who may or may not be using Addison Lee cabs on a corporate basis. I wonder how many of these will be happy to continue using a cab firm with such an aggressive attitude towards them.

"These cyclists are throwing themselves onto some of the most congested spaces in the world. They leap onto a vehicle which offers them no protection except a padded plastic hat."
The suggestion that the blame for cyclists who are killed and seriously injured on our roads should lie soley at their own feet is frankly disgusting. In terms of protection, whilst not physical protection, the highway code rule 163 offers cyclists legal protection. "Give vulnerable road users at least as much space as you would a car." Then again, I'm not surprised this has been overlooked by a man who has given his drivers carte blanche to break the highway code by driving in bus lanes. Mitesh Patel, one of our personal injury solicitors comments that "Given that better weather plus the London Olympics being likely to herald more cyclists on our roads, its clear that the roads may not be safe for them when Addison Lee cars are about."

“Should a motorist fail to observe a granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or a rain drain, then he is guilty of failing to anticipate that this was somebody on her maiden voyage into the abyss. The fact is he just didn’t see her and however cautious, caring or alert he is, the influx of beginner cyclists is going to lead to an overall increase in accidents involving cyclists."
Not sure where the assumption that only "wobbling grannies" are taking to their bikes comes from, but when the head of the firm admits his drivers are not skilled or trained well enough to deal with the most vulnerable road users after pedestrians we really should be asking questions of their suitability to be on the roads as well.

“The rest of us occupying this roadspace have had to undergo extensive training. We are sitting inside a protected space with impact bars and air bags and paying extortionate amounts of taxes on our vehicle purchase, parking, servicing, insurance and road tax."
Addison Lee's website actively encourages, not requires, all of its drivers to gain an NVQ level 2 in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving. Apparently this qualification educates drivers in 'defensive driving' techniques. It's a far cry from that when the owner of the company is instead encouraging flagrant law breaking, and aggressive driving by suggesting that his employees should have no obligation to show consideration as far as vulnerable road users and the law are concerned.
That's before we even get started on the mention of the non-existent road tax argument.

Image courtesy of I Pay Road Tax
“It is time for us to say to cyclists, ‘You want to join our gang, get trained and pay up’."
The fact is that the majority of adult cyclists hold driving licences, and will therefore have received exactly the same level of ‘extensive training’ as most motorists on the road. Do his comments extend to children who wish to use our roads? Are they expected to have to pay insurance, tax, licencing fees and so on to share what he calls some of the most congested spaces in the world?

Transport for London have hit back with the suggestion that if Griffin persists in urging his drivers to use the restricted lanes, it could ultimately force TfL to reconsider the firm's licence to trade altogether. But whether the TfL actually follow through on this threat is another matter. After all, they are chaired by Boris Johnson, who accepted a £25,000 campaign donation from Addison Lee ahead of his successful 2008 campaign. Any action could spell further political embarrassment for the Conservatives as Mr Griffin has twice been invited to Downing Street thanks to Addison Lee's £250,000 donations to the party since 2008.

The cycling community is set to hit back against Addison Lee with a "die-in" on Monday 23rd April outside their offices. Fake blood and make up is apparently welcome! More information on the facebook event page here.

Online reviews must be taken with a pinch of salt, but further evidence of Addison Lee's shady operating standards, if it were needed, can be found in the damning google reviews of their service, where the words 'bad attitude', 'rip off' and 'dangerous' keep cropping up.

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