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Bike Biz alerted us to the fact that Addison Lee drivers have received a letter from the Chairman of the company, telling them to start using London bus lanes as of today.

The Chairman, John Griffin, wrote

Our legal advice is that bus lane regulations are currently being misinterpreted to exclude [private hire vehicles] from bus lanes. Such misinterpretation is unlawful.

What defines who is and who isn’t allowed in a London bus lane, is the Traffic Management Order for the bus lane. I’ve looked at several of these across several boroughs and they all have similar wording (obviously built from the same template). They state something along the lines of

In this Order- …. “bus”, “local bus”, “pedal cycle”, “taxi”, “traffic lane”, “contra-flow” and “with-flow
lane” have the meanings given in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General
Directions 2002

Looking at the TSRGD Regulation 23, we can not determine what the definition of a taxi is. Is a minicab / private hire vehicle a taxi?

TFL state the following

Only licensed taxis (black cabs) can pick up passengers on the street. Any minicab driver who picks up customers without a booking is acting illegally. This includes minicabs lined up outside pubs and clubs.

Taxis (black cabs) have a light on the front displaying the word ‘TAXI’.

Only taxis (black cabs) may be hailed by customers and picked up off the street. Minicabs cannot accept fares that have not been booked in advance

There are now around 3,200 licensed private hire operators, 60,000 licensed private hire drivers, and roughly 50,000 licensed private hire vehicles in London. In addition, there are approximately 22,000 licensed taxis (black cabs) and almost 25,000 licensed taxi drivers.

So TFL make it clear that there is a difference between a taxi and a private hire vehicle.

The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1988 states

No such advertisement shall include—

(a)any of the following words, namely “taxi”, “taxis”, “cab” or “cabs”

So Private Hire Vehicles are NOT allowed to be advertised as a taxi or as taxis.

So are Addison Lee a Private Hire Vehicles Operator?

When you become a driver with Addison Lee, you join London’s largest private hire operator

In 2009 a FOI request was put in to TFL by Patrick Raeburn asking them

Please can I have all information relating to Private Hire
Vehicle access to Bus Lanes.

TFL’s response was

TfL does not currently permit private hire vehicles into bus lanes on the
Transport for London Road Network (TLRN). Therefore, no information is

Addison Lee are trying to challenge the definition of TAXI used on the signs and in the Traffic Management Orders for London Bus Lanes. Under The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1988 and by TFL’s own wording, a private hire vehicle may not be classed or advertised as a Taxi. As such, Private Hire Vehicles are not allowed in London Bus Lanes which allow TAXIS.

TFL released a statement yesterday that said the following

Private hire vehicle drivers could be liable to personal criminal prosecution if they break traffic regulations, including by driving in bus lanes.

At last, TFL will be receiving praise from cyclists all across London. Addison Lee drivers are known to be some of the worst in London.

I had a run in with a driver a few weeks ago. I was minding my own business in a cycle lane, when all of a sudden I had a car almost touching me and forcing me to take action to avoid a collision. The clip was forwarded to RoadSafe who forwarded it to my local traffic unit for the potential for prosecution.

According to the Road Traffic Act, Careless Driving is

A person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention if (and only if) the way he drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.

I would say that driving is well below par of a competent or careful driver. The driver came only inches away from hitting my handle bars with her wing mirror and encroached into the cycle lane whilst I was using it.

I was informed yesterday that the police would not be taking matters any further. At this moment in time I am unsure why, I have asked them if they can let me know their choices behind not taking this further considering the evidence.

Things are looking positive

February 24, 2012 — 1 Comment

Hundreds if not thousands of cyclists turned up to cycle around the streets of London to show support for The Times Cycle Safe campaign on the eve of the parliamentary debate. A debate which saw the House of Commons rather empty.

I would like to start of by saying thank you to the usual suspects, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n, Danny of Cyclists in the City and of course the London Cycling Campaign for organising another great protest ride, which despite the forecasted weather, had plenty of cyclists attending. And whilst there where a few niggles with the police and how the pack was being split up, thank you to them for helping marshal the event and keeping everyone safe.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to cycle this event due to a knee injury, instead I was walking on foot with my camera in hand taking photos. A few of those photos can be seen on flickr. The turnout was certainly huge, I’ve heard numerous numbers thrown around, and as a bystander, I can certainly say it was above 1,000 cyclists. Watching the cyclists coming over westminster bridge was just amazing, the line went on for ages!

This was of course on the eve of the parliamentary debate about cycling safety. The Times campaign has certainly set an impressive chain of events into motion as we see the House of Commons almost empty yesterday afternoon. This is an achievement that no other cycling campaign has managed in recent years.

So are things looking positive? Well a great turn out from cyclists and a good turn out by MP’s is certainly a positive, our trusty Prime Minister David (not a cyclist) Cameron may have just thrown a few bad eggs. Promising a pitiful amount of money for building new cycle routes across the country (less in fact than what was spent on the current Cycle Superhighways, and we know how good they are). It is of course a start.

At the end of Wednesdays ride, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n announced a new date to keep clear in our diaries, Saturday the 28th of April, for another mass ride, where hopefully even more cyclists will turn out for our biggest gathering to date.


A riders view of the ride. Thanks to Arasllopp for this

It has been said countless times that painted cycle lanes on the side of the roads don’t keep us safe. Despite this, our cycling facilities seem to be made up of mostly this, painted cycle lanes on the side of the road.

The magic paint lines obviously don’t keep other, much harder and faster vehicles from straying into them, and the consequences of them doing so can be huge. As the cyclist in the above video found out, being in the position designated to us on the road doesn’t equal safety and being hit by a bus that was driving in it was not a pleasurable experience!

What are we missing?

February 21, 2012 — 14 Comments

The Times #cyclesafe campaign has taken off massively over the past weeks. With support from sporting stars, politicians, huge companies and thousands of people.

The campaign raises similar points to other campaigns, touching on topics such as trixie mirrors, issues with large vehicles, re-design of junctions and speed limits. The difference so far is that it has been coming from a huge newspaper and not from a cycling lobby.

But are we missing something?

The one thing missing is a way to change road user attitude. I see the Times mention training of drivers and cyclists and to include a cycling specific section in the driving test. Whilst yes this would be a good measure, it doesn’t solve the millions of drivers we already have on our roads who are ‘bad’ drivers.

So what can we do? Essentially we need better policing on the roads. At present people are allowed to get away with bad driving if nobody in authority is watching and if no collision occurs. Because they aren’t brought up on it, this leads to bad driving become a habit and essentially normal driving.

Speeding is bad driving

As Croydon Council recently put on a sign around the corner from me. ‘Speeding is bad driving’. They put this on a road which is well-known for speeding road users. It’s nice and wide, with a pedestrian footpath on only one side which is also separated from the main carriage way by traffic islands and another small roadway. So people feel like it is OK to speed. In my +10 years of using this road, as a cyclist, driver and passenger, I’ve not once seen a police vehicle on it that was going after speeding drivers.

Usually, unless there is a fatal or serious road collision due to a speeding vehicle, local authorities will not put in speed cameras, and even if they do, they are of the type which are static, highly visible and only slow drivers down for a few meters. Only a few years ago hundreds if not thousands of speed cameras were turned off around the country because they cost too much to run.

Adding brand new cycling facilities is all well and good but they are useless if they aren’t enforced by the police or if all road users aren’t educated about them. We can see an example of poor implementation, enforcement and education by looking at advanced stop lines. A large proportion of ASL’s have vehicles in them which shouldn’t, which just makes the whole reason for them pointless.

It took years to make drink driving unacceptable, fines and points is not enough to deter people from doing something. Driving bans are much more effective. Driving whilst on the phone is just as dangerous as driving whilst over the drink drive limit, yet the penalties are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum which makes driving on the phone appear to be less dangerous and more socially acceptable, which it shouldn’t be.

We obviously need to change certain things to make the road network safer for all road users but I think a big aspect we are missing in current campaigning is increased enforcement of road users, continued education throughout driving ‘career’ and changing the underlying attitude that British road users have.