Tonight hundreds of cyclists assembled outside the offices of Addison Lee, the private hire taxi company, to protest at the actions of the company boss John Griffin.
Griffin appears to be someone who enjoys controversy and recently wrote an article in the in-house magazine which claimed that (also his piece in Huffington Post) “Green Party candidates and others are up in arms about what they see as murder of Cyclists on London’s roads…” arguing that cyclists get killed because they are untrained, uninsured, unsuitably attired and not careful drivers he goes on that “It is time for us to say to cyclists “if you want to join our gang, get trained and pay up.”"
In a later, less inflammatory piece he continues “I argue for compulsory training and insurance for London’s bicycle owners… I back proper training for all cyclists and a legal requirement to be vigilant at all times (for example by banning earphone use by cyclists).”
Sadly this is classic victim blaming. If you die or are injured on the roads it’s your fault. He ignores the fact that deaths and injuries are clustered into ‘hotspots’ where road design or markings could improve safety. He ignores the fact that vehicle design of large vehicles or railings massively increase the chances of a minor mishap becoming a fatal incident.
While he is keen to point out flip-flops or mock “grannies” for being on the road he might be more interested in the behaviour of some of his own drivers in a video collection of some of Addison Lee’s people. At the very time when TfL seem to be shifting ground on dangerous junctions and political parties of all stripes are beginning to take cyclists concerns seriously up pops Griffin to try and turn back thee tide.
Londonist reminds us that Griffin has encouraged his 3,500 drivers to break the law and has offered to pay any fines they incur by driving in bus lanes, something that in itself will make cyclists lives more hazardous. As David Mitchell said at the weekend “It’s ridiculous to claim that bus lane rules discriminate against “the millions of passengers that use Addison Lee”, as if they didn’t have every right to get on a bus. It’s not an argument that holds up for a second.”
As Heretics Corner points out some in the media are using John Griffin as a way to get at drivers while conveniently forget to point out that he himself is encouraging his drivers to break the law. Cyclists in the city is concerned that by handing over your money to Addison Lee cabs you don’t know how that moeny wil be spent (on donations to the Tory Party or to pay the fines of their drivers perhaps). There’s also a petition to government to withdraw the firms license.
Belinda Webb says that “Griffin is also overlooking the fact that many of London’s cyclists are also his passengers, and his blatant disregard for them could hit his beloved profit margins far harder than his drivers not being able to use the bus lanes.”
When cyclists came together at Addison Lee’s offices tonight they staged a die in outside the offices. Surprisingly Mr Griffin came out to speak to the assembled crowd. Even more surprisingly it seemed he was intent on reading his article out again to the protesters which did not go down brilliantly well.
Hecklers shouted “Stay out of the bus lanes!” and “Shame on you!” one older lady shouted “Can I put myself forward as a granny for you to kill?”
Griffin seemed unfazed and unrepentant in the face of the protest, the large amount of column inches devoted to his crass stupidity and becoming some sort of figure of hate. It seems that if we are to help him see that the dangers cyclists face are a bit more structural than wearing flip-flops it will take a boycott of the cabs and pressure for the license to be revoked if he does not cease to promote these dangerous views.