Addison Lee taxi firm chairman John Griffin has responded to criticism of his ‘anti-cycling’ article published in his company’s customer magazine this week.

Writing on the Huffington Post website, Griffin said: “My foreword in Addison Lee’s magazine Add Lib, has caused quite a storm amongst the Twitter community, and I’m glad it has. In the article, I argue for compulsory training and insurance for London’s bicycle owners and I still stand by my contention.

“About one cyclist is killed on London’s roads every month and countless others horribly injured. If the article causes a debate around cycle safety, and perhaps saves some lives, bring it on.

“Cycling is a deadly serious issue and lives are at stake. There have been huge campaigns recently to encourage cycling, but not so much in terms of improving safety and awareness for cyclists.

“I’m glad that the issue is being debated. If anyone has more ideas for improving safety for cyclists, I would be delighted to hear them. In the meantime, I will continue calling for compulsory training and compulsory insurance for bicycle users.”

Griffin’s original article had stirred up heated debate on the internet as it suggested that cyclists in London willingingly took their lives into their own hands by riding on roads. He said that cyclists should be properly trained and pay for using roads, summing up the article with “It is time for us to say to cyclists ‘You want to join our gang, get trained and pay up’.”

Griffin’s comments come on the back of a wider initiative by him to get his drivers to disobey road rules and use the capital’s bus lanes – currently only available to cyclists, motorcyclists, buses and black cabs. He said that he would pay any fine incurred by his drivers. This move has attracted the attention of Transport for London, who have threatened the company with legal action for using bus lanes.

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Addison Lee boss rants against London cyclists

  • Chris

    As a new London cabbie after completing nearly five years doing the knowledge nothing can prepare you
    The first day out in the cab when it’s time for Londoners to go home after a long hard day.
    This is by no means a jab at cyclists but to sit in a cab and see so many cyclists abusing the highways in vast
    Numbers is amazing overtaking both sides of me, jumping red lights,narrowly missing pedestrians trying to cross zebra crossing, riding on pavements you can’t imagine it was a very tiring and testing day.
    I try my very best to be patient with cyclists most the time I get it right, occasionaly i slip up by the very nature
    Of the job for wich I opplogise.

  • Donna Chad

    Addison Lee and Occupy London?
    It seems to me that this Addison Lee fracas is a classic example of what Occupy London was trying to highlight.
    1/ A very rich member of the 1% (he and his son directors take about £12.5 million out of the company annually),
    2/ uses his wealth to privately lobby the government for commercial advantage for his company ie access to bus lanes,
    3/ pays large amounts of money in political donations to help get his way (£50,000 to Boris and £250,000 to Tories – as he hates the pro cycling policies of the Green Party) ,
    4/ exploits the 99% to make his money – his workers are “self-employed” but have to pay Griffin large amounts of money whether they get any passengers or not – thus moving the risk from the very rich Griffin to his low waged workers.
    5/ he avoids paying holiday or other normal benefits to his low waged “self-employed”workers,
    6/ he avoids paying employers NI for these “self-employed”- thus avoiding tax,
    7/he destroys the planet to make his millions as instead of creaming the £12.5 million for his family from the business, he refuses to use ultra-low carbon vehicles, thus emitting thousands of tonnes of carbon every year,
    8/damages the health of the 99% by being a source of air-pollution on London’s streets due to mini-particulates – reported cause of up to 4,000 deaths each year
    9/ they try and create a near-monopoly in their field of operation and close down small companies and individual genuinely self-employed cabbies, which Addison Lee is doing with nearly 4,000 vehicles and the attempt to barge in on bus lanes, is to try and mop up what is left of the market that the black-cab drivers hold
    What is missing from classic Occupy London case study, is that normally such a case study includes massive offshore tax avoidance – ie by Addison Lee ownership possibly being buried in labyrinth of parent companies buried in offshore UK tax-stealing havens, as per David Cameron’s father or in the Griffin family squirelling their profits through such off-shore accounts.
    they try and create a monopoly in their field of operation and close down small companies and individual genuinely self-employed which Addison Lee is doing with nearly 4,000 vehicles and the attempt to barge in on bus lanes, is to try and mop up what is left of the market that the black-cab drivers hold”
    So I wonder is anybody here able to find out anything about the tax side of Addison Lee and Griffin Family to complete the Occupy thesis?
    Many thanks
    Donnachadh

  • Ol Rappaport

    Does John Griffin knows something we should be told about? I’m getting serious déjà vu about this: John Griffin instructed Addison Lee drivers to start using the A4 Heathrow bus lane a couple of months before it was suspended, and the fines his drivers incurred were waived.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11486243

    John Griffin is a major contributor to the Conservative party (£250,000) and Boris Johnson (£2,500).

    http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/business-news/politics/addison-lee-founder-john-griffin-my-50k-donation-didnt-help-my-business/1996.article

    So I’m very sceptical about the judicial review – I’m a London cyclist and I value bus lanes as rare places of comparative safety.

    Minicab drivers are pieceworkers, the more fares they get the more money they make. So they have a pressing financial incentive to get their fare to their destination as quickly as possible so they can get another fare, and they will bend/break the Highway Code to do this. Which is why the the vehicle that I have just had to take defensive action to avoid, so often turns out to be a minicab.

  • Terry

    As a life long cyclist and commuted into London from Kent to Kensington and am appalled by the behavour of the hardcore kamakaze/guerilla band of cyclists running red lights or riding the wrong way up one way streets and on pavements in the interests of ‘safety’ .
    Addison Lee has a valid point
    Yes, there should be training, I passed my cycling proficiency test at 96% and made sure my children underwent training as well. There should also be training for drivers of ALL vehicles in the hazards posed by vunerable road users but as no-one reads the Highway Code anymore such training has to be part of a practical test for ALL road users.
    The kamakaze group can’t have a go at other drivers whilst breaking the law themselves- has no-one heard of defensive riding/driving. And take those bl**dy headphones off !
    I’ve no sympathy with the ‘warrior’ approach- back off and give yourself some time and space.

  • johnny

    I ride a bicycle on my days off, when i’m at work i drive a London Taxi and when i did the knowledge i rode a moped…..am i paranoid or is Griffen out to get me!

  • Alexis

    I agree that he should not be getting such a huge amount of publicity for these outragous comments.

    I am a cyclist, driver and motorcyclist, as are a lot of people, therefore I have road sense, I know the rules of the road and abide by them whatever vehicle I happen to be on/using. I also have insurance – for my bike and 3rd party cover – the majority of serious cyclists do. All cyclists who race do and there is communter specific insurance also from various sources which of course most cyclists have in place.

    So to sum up – the people who are on the road on a bike and not insured and not trained tend to just to be people on bikes, NOT cyclists. Cyclists have insurance, maintain their bike to a high standard, and know the rules of the road. Yet depsite me having sufficient training, insurance, abiding by the rules, etc I have been knocked off twice, so some drivers attitudes need to change towards cyclists, at the end of the day cyclists are the more vulnerable group

  • Buffalo Bill

    There are a few thousand Addison Lee drivers on the road. In such numbers, as you might expect, they are a more or less representative sample of London drivers, ie no more or less courteous than most other London drivers

  • oz

    FREE advertising for his company ,TWICE in one week !

  • Phil j

    I,m a keen cyclist but i wouldent cycle in London or any other big city if you paid me! its far too dangerous no matter how defensive/cautiously you ride.
    They seem to talk as if cyclists are a different breed, as far as i know most cyclists are also car drivers.
    If cycling gets legislated ie insurance compulsory training etc i shall just go by car same as the rest of the majority and keep fit by using a gym or some other method. it would be adding insult to injury having to pay to be knocked off by some person in a tin who cant slow down or set off on a journey without allowing enough time to get there and consequently take chances with other drivers and vulnerable roadusers with their poor quality driving.
    I feel a lot safer in my car with airbags and pretensioners and crumple zones.

  • Neil

    A couple of things to note:

    1 – Why does this man have a voice? He has a business and a viewpoint but it doesn’t warrant coverage any more than any other citizen’s jaundiced views.

    2 – Why would you expect taxi drivers to be good driver? They spend two years driving around the city on a moped looking up at street names rather than looking at the road. Their training actually teaches them to look anywhere but the road and its other users!

  • Philip

    John Griffin obviously hasn’t been with any of his drivers, as they are the worst in London, blatant disregard for the highway code, they don’t bother with mirrors or signalling, just manoeuvring. They are the danger to cyclists! Makes independent licensed cabs look good.

  • Ted

    Business must be flagging as the name of that company has been nearly everywhere except in my shed. Mind you, having said that I haven’t seen it in the garden centre, my friend’s house or even at my gran’s. There’s no bill board with the campaign or even it’s theme. The other thing is that the bloke who’s trying to muster interest seems a bit serious to me. Surely ads and marketing campaigns are tongue in cheek. I’m not getting that level of humour or fun myself. What are they trying to sell? How much is it? Where can I get it? and how much does it weigh?

  • Lee

    Why is it that these sort of people make inflammatory comments; obviously hoping to provoke. Then, when they suffer backlash, they spin it as either a joke that went wrong or, justification for their opinions. Kind of like James Martin and the Tessler car.

    I don’t live in London, so don’t have experience of John Griffin’s drivers; which, by all the accounts I’ve read, don’t seem to be very courteous.

  • Patrick Jackson-Smith

    There’s not a lot to say really is there. If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’d be fair to assume its a duck. Mr Griffin I assume is a bigot. Like all bigots he ‘s too stupid to realise that he’s stupid. Let’s not waste any more time on him, it’ll only inflate his massive ego still further.

  • Ken Evans

    London Taxi drivers can be extremely dangerous !

    Sometimes they can suddenly stop without warning,
    to drop a fare, or pick-up a new passenger.

    Passengers sometimes even try to open their doors into cyclists,
    without even thinking to look first !

    Often Taxis will suddenly do a U turn in the middle of the road,
    without any indication or warning.

    Frequently Taxis will pull into the curb,
    without first checking if there are any cyclists behind them.

    Many of them will make a turn without first using their indicators.

    And unlike a cyclist, with a weight or less than 100 Kg,
    a Taxi weighs more than TEN TIMES as much !

    A Taxi is hard and unbending metal,
    a cyclist is soft, and fragile, flesh.

    As a cyclist, even if you are skilled and prepared,
    you are still in danger from bad TAXI drivers !

    I wonder how many of the Taxi drivers employed by this man
    have caused accidents and hurt people with their bad driving.

    Many Taxis also pour out clouds of disgusting black smoke,
    and unlike cyclists they can be very noisy too.

  • bassjunkieuk@allpartycycling @addisonleecabs

    It’s all well and good asking for compulsory training and insurance but seeing as we already have a much more dangerous class of road users who are meant to be trained/insured and we get plenty of them driving around with one or the both then I think suggesting this will be a miraculous cure for poor cycling shows a rather limited view of the situation.

    For me the comments regarding paying and training etc. wheren’t what annoyed me, they are pretty much par for the course and the standard retorts of the self-important motorist.

    For me it was the “we can’t expect drivers to anticipate cyclists” part. As far as I was aware drivers are advised to expect cyclists to have to swerve for potholes or drains or occasionally not hold a perfectly straight line, hence the Highway Code suggests you pass cyclists with as much space as possible. From my experiences of riding in London I rarely get someone pass me with that sort of clearance and the “textbook” passes are balanced by the “how did they not hit me” passes. Most drivers seem to think scrapping past with 1-2′ clearance is fine. Maybe if his own drivers where shining examples that could be used to show other road users HOW to drive as opposed to HOW NOT to drive it might make his comments a little easier to take in light hearted manner he seems to have hoped they would have been received.