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.

All bicycles should be properly stored on a rack

I’m lucky to work for a good company who provides great facilities for cyclists including showers, towels and storage space for sweaty clothes. Oh I forgot, nearly 400 bicycle racks in the basement!

Bicycle Racks

The bicycle racks turn out to be not that great, unfortunately they are managed by the building management, whose main aim appears to ‘Fit as many bicycles in the space we have.’
This means we have bicycle racks which store the bikes vertically and in some cases with the racks backing on to each other in a very tight fashion that makes moving a bicycle around rather difficult.

I didn’t have a problem with the racks at first, I was using bikes with out mudguards but as I grew to dislike the dirt coloured stain in my arse area every time the ground was wet I quickly fitted mudguards on any bicycle I was regularly commuting on.

This however causes a massive problem with using the bicycle racks provided, the contact points are on the rear wheel as the bike is vertical and a loop over the front wheel. This causes obvious problems with any bicycle that has near full length mudguards as the bicycle rests most of its weight on the mudguard. I’ve so far broken/damaged 3 mudguards when trying to put my bicycle into the racks, a few months ago I decided enough is enough, I’m going to stop using them and lock my bicycle in a normal fashion to the back of the stands.

How my bicycle is locked

Locking it in such a fashion has a major advantage, no not that my mudguards no longer break but I can actually lock my bicycle securely by locking both wheels and the frame in two locations. This is not something that is possible if you use the racks as your frame is nowhere near the frame of the stand, even with a 1m chain I was unable to lock my frame to the stand.

I didn’t have any trouble locking my bike in such a fashion for a few months, then it all got heated when people started leaving their bikes in an untidy fashion for weeks on end. It causes issues with people who move around the basement, it looks untidy and it blocks people from getting in and out of their motor vehicles.
Recently e-mails have been sent to the facilities manager in the company I work for about such and that we shouldn’t be parking our bicycles in such a fashion. Obviously I quickly fired an e-mail back to him explaining the issues I have specifically about my bicycles getting damaged if I use the racks and he replied ‘I’ll raise it in the next building management meeting’. I’ve spoken to him several times since but nothing has happened yet.

A few weeks ago there was an increase in security in the basement just before 9am (when most cyclists turn up) and I’ve been questioned several times as to why I lock my bicycle where I do, obviously I mention the mudguards, mudflap and previous broken mudguards. Most don’t have an issue with me as my bike is securely parked and out-of-the-way (I park it next to a parking bay that is not used and there is plenty of space to open a car door) but one security guard recently said “Why didn’t you buy a bike which fitted in our racks?”

Last night I went to get my bike and I noticed a sign on it, from the building management.

I guess I’ll have to apply more pressure to my facilities manager.

Rapid Ready Mix

I uploaded a video a few weeks ago of a large cement mixer not driving perfectly on the road. Minor stuff including encroaching into an ASL and overtaking and pulling in just before some stopped cars.

Like I said, nothing major, but I uploaded it and forwarded it onto the Police so they could get in contact with the company and sort out this behaviour before someone gets hurt. I was going to forward it onto the company as well but didn’t get around to it.

Before I could contact the company I got a message from a subscriber on youtube, I’ll call him Mark, Mark had been in contact with the company and got an interesting reply.

I appreciate your concern but unfortunately I don’t think it was as dangerous as you’re making out. I would appreciate if “gaz545” could get in the bike lane rather than cycling on the line!

The reply came from someone who I shall name Paul, Mark replied to Paul and quickly set him straight on a few things, including positioning and the legal side of the ASL.
I also contacted Paul and wrote the following

Your comment to Mark, ‘I would appreciate if “gaz545” could get in the bike lane rather than cycling on the line!’.
Quite obviously you are not aware on how bicycle lanes function or the requirements of cyclists to use them. There is in fact no legal requirement for cyclists to use any cycle lane that is provided for them and we are often advised not to cycle in them because they are poorly designed, not wide enough and are often filled with glass and other sharp objects such as stones.

Whilst you would appreciate that I should stay in the bike lane, i believe it is fair for me to expect Rapid Ready Mix vehicles to drive safely around vulnerable users and in general on the road.
Your driver clearly broke the law when he crossed the first solid white line at the traffic lights, that is known as red light jumping, something which people often complain cyclists of doing but your driver is no better.
By also stopping in the advanced stop zone ( the big blue area with the bicycle logo in it) he put me and several other cyclists in his blind spot, whilst I can see that your vehicles are kitted out with all the required mirrors, that does not mean that your drivers uses them or that they are aware of any vulnerable road users to their left. I’m sure you can appreciate that not every cyclists is sensible and sometimes they put them selves in unnecessary positions which leave them in a position of danger.

His second action of cutting in front of me wasn’t as bad as i was first expecting but the principle of the manoeuvre is still dangerous. Overtaking cyclists, pull in front of them and then stop, very dangerous is it not? How would you feel if a driver on the motorway pulled in front of you and started braking? Would you think it was dangerous?
At first i thought he would be coming all the way across and this is where the issue is, not all cyclists would read this situation or simply wouldn’t care and would continue on their way up the left hand side whilst your lorry is turning in, this can often lead to cyclists being squashed under large vehicles and is a killer on London’s streets.

I would expect more from a professional driver, he got no further than if he waited safely behind in each case.

 

Neither my self or Mark got any more responses from Paul. Not what I was expecting but a later found out that the Police had sent the company a letter about the driving and giving them some advise about what they should be doing.
I guess that Paul heard about this in the office and decided that he was better off not replying to those who have the law behind them.

Don’t be a jerk!

I saw these videos when they first came out but completely forgot about them. 3 Videos with famous New York City celebrities showing the does and do nots when cycling.

A set of middy amusing videos do help to get the message across, I suspect that they would only work if people started calling every cyclist that makes this mistake a jerk.

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.

Blackfriars Bridge Protest

It was a great turnout, I suspect that near 1,000 cyclists joined in on a peaceful protest across the bridge and back again that was well marshalled by the police.

It was great to not only see some many cyclists join together to protest but also to see so many cyclists with video cameras. So many I didn’t know and so many I didn’t get to talk to, obviously us usual suspects met up afterwards and had a good chat and a little bicycle ride 🙂

Lets cross our fingers that TFL listen to us this time and take a real look at the possibilities of the junction and the surrounding area. As the LCC published a very good looking plan the other day, see if you can spot the difference between TFL’s and LCC’s plan.


Heres my POV of the even in super fast forward

And some photos

A new way to tell drivers off for being on the phone!

I probably wouldn’t have uploaded this if I didn’t see the coppers as the camera doesn’t catch the driver on the phone whilst moving in the car. But the driver did admit to using his phone whilst driving for a brief moment.

Great timing by the local police officers!

7 Days to go – Blackfriars Bridge 12th of October

Only 7 days until the LCC’s planned ride takes place at 6pm on Blackfriars Bridge.

Credits to Ealing Cycling Campaign

This isn’t just about Blackfriars Bridge anymore, TFL aren’t listening to vulnerable road users. We can’t let them ignore us, if they go ahead with the current plans then who knows what cycling will be like for Londoners in the future!

Hundreds have already pledged to the LCC that they will attend, lets hope that hundreds more turn up on the evening.

Cycle Video Day

 

Cycle Video Day 10th of October 2011

Magnatom has recently announced an idea called Cycle Video Day.

The basic idea is to get as many Video Camera Cyclists to submit some footage that was taken on that day, showing what ever they wanted, them being cut up, left hooked or passing loads of standstill traffic as they go about their travels. The main idea is to show our numbers!

I know loads of people who know about my self or a few other guys that film their cycle journeys. But in reality there are loads, across the world I know of nearly 400 but there are hundreds more who I have yet to discover or who don’t post online.

I’m already having ideas about what I want to try to do. With plenty of Londoners using cameras, I would like to try to get a few of us together and all do a short ride with each other. It would be great to see each other from different perspectives.

Magnatom has asked for anyone to input in the general ideas pot. There is nothing set in stone about how this is going to work or where this is going to do. All that is set is the date. If you want to give some input, head over to his blog and comment on one of the Cycle Video Day posts.