John Griffin, the Addison Lee boss at the centre of a bus lane storm in London, uses his editorial in the latest issue of his corporate magazine to take a pot-shot at cyclists, blaming them for any "accidents". Griffin recently told his ‘self-employed’ drivers to break the law and use bus lanes in London.
Currently only black taxi cabs – and cyclists and since January, motorcyclists – are allowed to use bus lanes. Griffin told his drivers he’d reimburse them for any fines they incurred when breaking the law.
AddLib magazine is handed out to Addison Lee customers and is available in the 4000 vehicles used by the company for 25,000 daily journeys in London.
"Green party candidates and others are up in arms about what they see as the murder of Cyclists on London Roads. There has, as we all know, been a tremendous upsurge in cycling and cycling shops.
"This summer the roads will be thick with bicycles, 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.
"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.
"The rest of us occupying this roadspace have had to undego 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. It is time for us to say to cyclists ‘You want to join our gang, get trained and pay up’.
Road tax doesn’t exist. It’s car tax, a tax on cars and other vehicles, not a tax on roads or a fee to use them. Motorists do not pay directly for the roads. Roads are paid for via general and local taxation. In 1926, Winston Churchill started the process to abolish road tax. It was finally culled in 1937. Car tax is based on amount of CO2 emitted so, if a fee had to be paid, cyclists – who are sometimes branded as ‘tax dodgers’ – would pay the same as ‘tax-dodgers’ such as disabled drivers, police cars, the Royal family, and band A motorists, ie £0. Most cyclists are also car-owners, too, so pay VED. Many of those who believe road tax exists – such as John Griffin – want cyclists off the roads or, at least registered, but bicycle licensing is an expensive folly.
Over on Road.cc, Simon Macmichael goes over Griffin’s text and offers many more rebuttals.
"We could comment upon his apparent belief that roads belong to motorists.
"We could take him to task for his apparent victim-blaming of those who lose their lives while quite legally cycling on London’s roads.
"We could consider that a motorist’s ‘protected space’ can lead them to forget that they are sitting inside a machine with the capability of easily inflicting death or serious injury on more vulnerable road users.
"While he acknowledges that cycling in London is booming, he misses the point about where much of that growth comes from; it isn’t from ‘grannies’ taking to two wheels for the first time.
"Instead, a lot of the rise in cycling is driven by middle-aged professionals such as lawyers, bankers and accountants who in some cases will be the people who decide which cab firm their company uses, or at least help influence that decision.
Currently, for many companies and organisations, that firm will be Addison Lee.
"Earlier this week, the company used its Twitter feed to proclaim proudly that its account customers had overwhelmingly backed its unilateral decision to illegally use London’s bus lanes; we wonder whether all of his customers will endorse his views on cycling, and those who have died while riding their bikes, once they learn of it?"
Dr. Robert Davis, Chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, said:
"This display of self-pitying bigotry and victim-blaming is, above all, the kind of incendiary message that exacerbates rule and law breaking behaviour by motorists.
"And the bigotry is deep seated and needs to be properly confronted by those in power: step forward all those with responsibility for transport policy, as well as those charged with enforcing driver behaviour on London’s roads.
"The “paying road tax” myth is inevitably associated with negative behaviour towards non-motorists.
"The idea that drivers are “extensively trained” is laughable. So too is the implication that vehicle occupants have somehow fulfilled a greater responsibility than cyclists or pedestrians because they are in a crashworthy environment. These myths are simply part of the inversion of reality presented by Addison Lee’s Chairman – a world where drivers are the victims of cyclists, rather than the other way round.
"Encouraging people to feel that they are good drivers because they have driven properly once for 25 minutes, and producing idiots by idiot-proofing the motor vehicle and highway environment, are part of the problem of danger on the road – and these examples of “road safety” culture are officially sanctioned."