Addison Lee chairman scores massive own goal with article likely to increase risk to cyclists

London’s largest private hire firm, Addison Lee, has been in the news for the wrong reasons already this week for urging its 3500 drivers to drive illegally in bus lanes, to the detriment of cyclist safety.

Now, its chairman John Griffin has published a deeply unpleasant and ill-informed column in the firm’s corporate magazine, Add Lib, which appears to say it’s acceptable to run over people on bikes because they’re probably a "beginner cyclists".

There are strong concerns the article will create anti-cyclist sentiment among the firm's drivers, putting lives at risk.

It’s not always clear precisely what Griffin means in his article (it's reproduced below also), because its poorly written as well as containing numerous factual errors, but the tone is clear: my drivers and I are safe in our metal boxes; vulnerable people like cyclists don’t deserve to be on our roads; and if cyclists get hurt it’s their own fault.

Addison Lee already has a very poor reputation among cyclists, with its drivers being frequently accused of inconsiderate or dangerous behaviour on the road.

Now it appears from the article that Griffin is prepared to deliberately infest his whole company with anti-cyclist sentiment, putting the lives of Londoners at greater risk.

It’s hard to see how the government departments and corporate clients that currently use Addison Lee services can continue to do so without appearing to condone the chairman’s complete disregard for cyclist safety.

We strongly urges all cyclists working in companies that use Addison Lee to urge them to only hire private hire car firms that show a reponsible attitude towards cyclist safety.

For the record:

  • The chairman makes no demands or requests on its drivers to act responsibly by giving vulnerable road users adequate space (as required by the Highway Code), and suggests that any cyclist swerving to avoid a pothole or drain must be a beginner and is apparently deserving of being run over, even if it’s a “granny”.
  • It fails to acknowledge that urban congestion is caused by motor vehicles and alleviated by bicycles.
  • It suggests that cyclists currently have no right to be on the road, and won’t be deserving of such a right until they pay for the privilege. Cyclists have an equal right to use road space as any motor vehicle, and contribute to the upkeep of roads through general taxation, like everyone else.
  • It implies the existence of ‘road tax’, which was abolished in the 1930s, replaced by Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) , which is now based on emissions. Bicycles are zero-rated for VED, as are many low-emissions cars. It's incredible that the chairman of a private hire company would fail to understand tax law, unless he's being deliberately misleading.
  • He suggests that riding a bike is characterised by "Green party" politics, even though all the main mayoral candidates have featured cycling prominently in their manifestos, and cyclists are known to come from all a broad spectrum of political and social backgrounds.

As Danny on the Cyclist in the City blog reminds us, it is unspeakably awful for John Griffin to print an article like this in the same week that Debbie Dorling is dealing with the pain of spending her 25th wedding anniversary without her beloved husband, killed last year for no better reason than wanting to ride to work on his bike.

A peaceful protest has been organised by concerned cyclists on Facebook, to take place outside the head office of Addison Lee on Monday 23 April at 6pm.

On 28 April the London Cycling Campaign is organising the UK's largest ever ride in favour of safer streets for cycling – find out more.

John Griffin's article in full

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 undergo 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’.

Replies

  • By PaulM at 09:49am 20 Apr 2012

On the bus lanes issue, TfL has indicated that it would consider criminal proceedings against Adlee drivers who deliberately infringe bus lanes.

Receiving or handling cash derived from any form of criminal activity is a Money-Laundering offence.  AdLee is therefore planning to commit acts of money laundering.  I put this proposition to my firm's Money Laundering Reporting Officer, a formal office established under the Anti Money-Laundering Regulations and the Proceeds of Crime Act.  They confirmed that this may indeed be construed as money laundering and they plan to take the matter up with AdLee, for whom we are one of its largest customers.

I would urge anyone who works for a company or firm in the financial sector, with statutory obligations to prevent or report money laundering, to contact their MLRO immediately if they have a corporate account with AdLee

This content was deleted by mark.hawkins at 11:10am 20 Apr 2012.

  • By bigpete at 12:45pm 20 Apr 2012

Unbelievably ignorant and offensive. I have written to content@addlib.co.uk and suggest others do the same.

Don't let the bully get away with it.

This is outrageous!

Just for the record cyclists and motorists do not have equal rights to use the roads; cyclists have unequivocal rights to use the roads since the signing of the magna carta (even though technically they hadn't been invented yet!). Motorists do not have any rights to use the roads, that is why they can only use them under privilege granted by licence, one for the driver, and one for the vehicle. That used to be the best answer to these idiots that still refer to road tax, however the introduction of emmission values to the Vehicle Excise Duty has replaced that argument with the one described above.

I urge all cyclists to boycott Addison Lee and send links of this article to all their mates, as I am just about to do.

Good luck to all on the Go Dutch ride next week!

LFGSS have done a great job putting all relevant info together on this:
http://www.lfgss.com/thread84280.html

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33116

In encouraging his mini-cab drivers to take to bus lanes, Mr. Griffin has committed an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007

Mr Griffin has stated that in his view his min-cabs should be able to drive in London bus lanes. He has urged that they do so despite this being illegal and has offered to "indemnify any fines or payments".

The law

The Serious Crime Act 2007 replaces the old law on incitement.  Section 45 provides that:

“A person commits an offence if—

(a)he does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence; and

(b)he believes—

(i)that the offence will be committed; and

(ii)that his act will encourage or assist its commission.”

According to an April 16 Addison Lee website press release (http://www.addisonlee.com/press/read/560) Mr Griffin issued a letter “to Addison Lee’s 3,500 minicab drivers, instructing them to use the bus lanes.  Addison Lee will indemnify its drivers from any fines or payments that result from this action”

This action is at least ‘capable’ of encouraging drivers to act in contravention of road traffic regulations and ignore traffic signs, which would amount to a criminal offence.

It is very clear that Mr Griffin intends (at least believes) that his drivers will act as he has instructed. This is evidenced from his offer of indemnity where his drivers are fined. To commit an offence under this Section, the offence encouraged need not actually be committed by anyone, so it is immaterial whether any Addison Lee drivers actually went on to commit the offence.

In sum, as a matter of law, Mr Griffin has committed an offence contrary to Section 45. Will he be prosecuted?

Prosecution policy

The Crown Prosecution Service must ask themselves two questions when they are making their decisions as to whether to prosecute an offence.

First, is there enough evidence against the defendant?

It is submitted that in this case the answer is surely in the affirmative. The comments made by Mr Griffin were published on Addison Lee’s website. Further, Mr Griffin has confirmed his comments and sought to defend them on policy grounds (which would not be a defence under the Act).

Second, is a prosecution required in the public interest?

Ensuring road traffic safety in London is of course in the public interest. So too therefore is prosecuting those who encourage contravention of road traffic regulations. Mr Griffin’s case is aggravated by his offer of financial incentive to those who follow his instructions. So concerned were Transport for London at Mr Griffin’s comments, they issued a press release stating “By issuing (the letter), Addison Lee risk… leave[ing] their staff liable to criminal prosecution.”Additionally there are concerns regarding the safety of other road users. Not least, cyclists who use bus lanes are at risk of being put at danger if bus lanes are used by traffic prohibited from using them.

 

This post was edited by London Cycling Campaign at 11:40pm 20 Aug 2012.

Just sent this to our dear friend Mr Griffin @ content@addlib.co.uk - not very constructive I know but I feel a lot better...

Dear Mr Griffin

I am disgusted to read your comments about 'granny beginner' cyclists. I wonder where your national pride is in our Olympic year. Will you also be instructing your frankly badly-trained, likely 'beginner' drivers to also show no consideration or respect to the GB national cycling team national team if they should see them out training?

PS last time I was in one of your cabs the driver wasn't wearing his seatbelt. When we arrived at our destination I told him I was a police officer - he practically wet himself, most amusing... Perhaps you should offer me a job as a trainer at your organisation? I seem to have the knack of instilling a bit of regard for public safety in your workforce.

Yours with the utmost dislike,

A careful & experienced cyclist.



For Bikesmakesmyheartsing - I dont remember it being illegal for a PCO driver not to wear his seatbelt...maybe do some research before commenting on here.

 

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