I Love Taxi Drivers

Ok I don’t really, the majority of my worst incidences have been with taxi drivers and they seem to be invincible! From my experience the police pass any reports to the PCO and the PCO hold their hands up and say it’s up to the police to sort it out.

The public carriage office in its current state is a bit of a shambles, I have been provided a small amount of inside knowledge from someone who was involved with the PCO from a day-to-day basis on a professional level. I won’t go into detail at present, it would be a very long post but the end result is taxi drivers in London are basically untouchable and a few of them act as if they know that.

I’ve reported various incidences of varying degrees to the PCO, in every case I’ve not had a positive response, most of them result in a ‘It’s not our job to the police the roads’ and a few result in ‘we can’t view youtube videos so it’s your word against theirs’. It normally ends there, they are very understaffed and just don’t have time to look into these cases in enough detail.

I’ve tried reporting it to the Police but the MET handed over regulation and licensing of hackney carriages to TFL in 2000 and they seem to try to push the reports on TFL/PCO.

So far I’ve gotten not a single result from anything that has happened with a black cab. If you follow what I’ve published on youtube then you will know there are some real shockers.
I have had a few incidences which I’ve been told will be put on the driver’s record, but note these where not confirmed and the information did not come from someone who worked at the PCO. So I have no way to be certain.

Transport for London have provided a handy document that outlines the laws which govern hackney carriages and it states

In this Abstract, ‘The Licensing Authority’ means Transport for London (TfL) which will exercise the duties imposed by the London Cab Order 1934 as amended by the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to apply the laws in that document. In the document is the Standard Scale, which is the different fines that TFL/PCO are to apply to drivers when the break various laws, unfortunately the fines are maximum and do not have to be that exact amount.

  • Level 1 = £200
  • Level 2 = £500
  • Level 3 = £1,000
  • Level 4 = £2,500
  • Level 5 = £5,000

Lets highlight a few of the laws and what fines should be applied to the drivers that break them.

39. Various acts of misbehaviour by taxi driver (Act of 1843 s28; Act of 1831 s 56)

(1) The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1) or two months imprisonment:

(a) Wanton or furious driving.

(b)  Causing hurt or damage to any person by carelessness or wilful misbehaviour.

(c)  Drunkenness during employment.

(d)  Use of insulting or abusive language during employment.

(e)  Use of insulting gestures during employment.

(f)  Any misbehaviour during employment.

(2)  The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1 )

(a)  Injuring or endangering the life, limbs or property of any persons by intoxication, wanton or furious driving or any other wilful misconduct.

(b)  Using abusive or insulting language or rude behaviour towards any person.

(c)  Assaulting or obstructing any police officer in the execution of his duty.

(3)  This type of behaviour is also contrary to laws of general application, for example the Public Order Act 1986, carrying where appropriate heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to deal with drivers who; drive dangerously, injury someone, damage someones property, swear at someone, use insulting gestures.

In several case I have been sworn at, threatened and had people driving dangerously around me. So that would mean that several drivers should have gotten fines but instead they may have a mark on their record or they got away with it.

I guess I will have to push the PCO next time I have an incident with a taxi and get them to properly deal with the driver. At present it’s a joke and I get the feeling that taxi drivers are currently untouchable which is a problem when some of them think you shouldn’t be on the road and they are king.

TFL Getting People to Cycle and Walk

Along with Recyclebank, TFL are planning a scheme where people will get rewards and discounts for making journeys in London on foot or by bicycle.

The idea is to get more people to walk and cycle in the capital to reduce pollution, boost fitness and ease congestion. Users will collect points for every journey they make and will be redeemable against a range of offers and discounts.

Launch is expected to take place in Spring 2012 and could be a massive hit with people who already walk and cycle in London. It is designed to work with your phone and GPS transmitter, with an app that logs your journey and rewards you from that.

Read More >

I could personally see this useful, depending on the amount of points you get per journey, it could potentially mean free lunches at Marks & Spencer or at least reduced costs.

This announcement comes only days after +2,000 cyclists and pedestrians took to Blackfriars Bridge in protest against TFL for not putting more thought into vulnerable road users in their re-designed Blackfriars Bridge.

It gives two pictures, one side TFL want to make the traffic flow for motorised vehicles as quick as possible but on the other side they want to get people out of their cars and onto the streets which they have just put fast-moving and dangerous traffic next to.

Cyclists on the Bridge

Picture this, it’s 8.30am on Friday the 20th of May and the pavement on the south to north bound side of the bridge is full of cyclists. Cyclists which were called to this location by the LCC and campaigners less than 24 hours ago.

The result was nearly 300 cyclists cycling over the bridge each way as slow as possible. By my Garmin device, we travelled 0.83 miles in 14 minutes and 30 seconds. That gives us an average speed of 3.4mph.

We stopped outside of the TFL building on Blackfriars road, only a stones throw away from the bridge, to voice our concerns to them in person but they didn’t want to talk. I suspect because we caught them off guard, I heard that they didn’t even know we where coming.

All in all it was a good ride and we only had a few minor issues with motorcyclist that where in a rush to get to somewhere. Below is a 3x speed video i recorded.

Something that is hard to make clear, is why we did this.

TFL have rejected several plans which would have suited many people’s needs and instead have tried to push plans through that favour the motorist and fast-moving, dangerous traffic.

The upgrade to Blackfriars station is going to produce a huge increase in pedestrians that are using the area. But in TFL’s plans, pedestrians and not being looked out for, the speed limit of cars is being increased and space is being taken away from pedestrians and cyclists to allow another lane for vehicles. Which resembles a motorway.

Cyclists we will also be affected, our cycle lanes will be smaller and we will have faster traffic moving around us. If you choose to turn right at the north side of the bridge then you will have to cross 3 lanes of traffic which is moving at 30 mph (well that is the limit).

So the reason we grouped together as cyclists, bloggers, cycling groups, road users and people of the city is to voice our concern over the plans to put vulnerable road users at the bottom and allow faster and more dangerous vehicles to have the priority.

We are meant to be going through a cycling revolution in London but as anyone that knows, it was not Boris that came up with or laid the initial plans for the Cycle Superhighways or the Cycle Hire Scheme. The two leading schemes of the revolution. It seems that the cycling revolution can only progress if motorists are not hindered.

I must say a big thanks to the London Cycling Campaign, Mark at i bike london, Danny at Cyclists in the City and the MET Cycle Task Force.

LCC, Mark and Danny have provided us with fantastic information and detailed descriptions about the plans and potential issues with the designs for Blackfriars bridge. And they helped organise and publish the plans for this group ride. Without them, where would we be?

And a big thanks to the MET Cycle Task Force. An ever-growing group of officers that watched over our event and spoke to a few impatient motorcyclist. They are working hard to prevent and catch bicycle thieves and make the roads of London a safe place for any mode of transport to use. I even got my bicycle security marked after the event, a big thanks again for that 🙂

[UPDATES] Missed the time in the post, time added back in.

Advanced Stop Lines – The results

I said a few weeks ago that I was going to collect some data about ASL’s and how many people I see breaking the rules on them. I took the data from a 5 day commuting period, which resulted in 149.55 miles traveled, 11 hours and 30 minutes in the saddle.

I stopped at 88 sets of traffic lights which had an ASL. 7 of those ASL’s had no vehicles that shouldn’t be in there from the time I was in it till the time I left it on the green light. At 12 of those 88, I couldn’t filter to the ASL, either due to it being full with vehicles or because the filter lane and other access routes were blocked.

At those 88 sets of traffic lights I saw 154 vehicles in them whilst the light was red. 59% of those where there when I got to it, and 41% of them I saw move pass the first stop light whilst the light was red.

54% of the vehicles that where in the ASL’s where motorbikes, the other 46% where other vehicles on the road, be them lorries, vans or cars.
On average, there where 1.75 vehicles in each ASL that shouldn’t have been there.

The highway code states, Rule 178:

Advanced stop lines. Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be positioned ahead of other traffic. Motorists, including motorcyclists, MUST stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red and should avoid blocking the way or encroaching on the marked area at other times, e.g. if the junction ahead is blocked. If your vehicle has proceeded over the first white line at the time that the signal goes red, you MUST stop at the second white line, even if your vehicle is in the marked area. Allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows.

The highway code suggests that you should treat the ASL like a yellow box and pedestrian crossing. If you can move all the way passed it then fine, but if you will stop in it due to traffic ahead of you, then you should stop at the first stop line. This suggests that any vehicle caught in the ASL that shouldn’t be there, could be fined.

Lets see what the Road Traffic Act and The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions have to say about ASL’s. *reads sections outlined by the highway code* Well that would be nothing. Just the laws about stopping at the first stop line but nothing about ASL’s. Which means that the police can only fine someone if they see them cross the first white line whilst the light is amber or red (amber is a 50/50 ).

I’ve yet to see anyone get fined for crossing the first stop line whilst the light is red. There have been some tales told by cyclists, the police say they can only fine someone if they see them cross the first stop line whilst the light is on red. Even then I doubt the driver will get a £60 and 3 points for it, more a telling off.

TFL boast that they added new ASL’s and increased the size of the existing ones along the super highways. But what is the point in wasting tax payers money on facilities for vulnerable road users if motor vehicles just ignore them? I would have no problem with TFL boasting about them if they where actually enforced and useful to cyclists but I fear that they often act as a target for cyclists to filter to and can put them in danger.