Addison Lee to train its drivers to be cyclist-aware


I met John Griffin today. I gave him an ipayroadtax jersey (later in the day I also gave one to the editor of The Times). I don’t suppose Griffin will ever wear it (the editor of The Times told me he cycles so I’m hoping he wears his), but just because he won’t be squeezing into Lycra any time soon, doesn’t mean Griffin hasn’t taken on board some of the criticisms voiced by the boisterous #boycottaddisonlee campaign. 

Griffin is likely to be one of the Addison Lee folks to attend a cycle training course run by London cycle trainer David Dansky of Cycle Training UK. I’m hoping to tag along, too. And so will the Addison Lee PR executive, Alistair Laycock.

I had a one and a half hour meeting with Laycock. He revealed he’s been a weekend cyclist for about a year, does sportives, but had yet to brave the bike ride to the Addison Lee HQ at Euston from his home in Tooting. He’s going to start.

Laycock said Addison Lee execs were taken aback by the vehemence of the some of the #boycottaddisonlee tweets, Facebook postings, and name-calls at last week’s ‘die in’.

In retrospect he agrees it was a mistake for Add Lib, the Addison Lee corporate magazine, to poke the cyclists’ hornet nest when the real beef was with black cab taxi driver access into London’s bus lanes.

Stung by the criticism from cyclists, Addison Lee is willing to make amends, said Laycock. He has read the action plan posted on this site last week and said the company wants something good to come out of the conflict.

The existing driver training programme will be expanded to include more cycle awareness issues, and the company’s self-employed drivers will be incentivised to take the courses on offer from Cycle Training UK.

Getting drivers – any drivers – out from behind their windshields, crumple zones and airbags, and on to bicycles, is one of the ways to make them appreciate the cyclists’ point of view on road safety. We need space. When in the middle of the lane we’re not “blocking the way” because we “think we own the road”, we’re keeping clear of parked cars, not riding in the gutter and are being alert to possible pinch-points ahead. Drivers who spend a few hours on bikes, in real world traffic conditions, may take all this on board. Really, such cycle awareness ought to be in the driving test but that’s another battle.

Interestingly, Laycock said the company is evaluating the placement of front-facing video cameras in its fleet of 3700 vehicles. If these are fitted it will be easier for Addison Lee to check a driver’s eye view of an incident involving a cyclist who complains of being hit or threatened by an Addison Lee minicab (such cams could also prove that the driver was blameless).

What Addison Lee won’t do is sponsor a cycle team or put cash into a cycle charity, said Laycock.

“Since the war of words started we’ve been approached by lots of cycle concerns urging we support their cause as some sort of pennance. We’re not going to do that. It would be rightly seen as a knee-jerk reaction.

“The offer of putting drivers through cycle training is genuine. We contacted David Dansky last week to start the ball rolling.”

  • Steve

    What a load of bollocks, just another public relations exercisen

  • Stuartjrose

    Mr Laycock , cyclist……? Next they will be telling you that drivers will have to ride a bike around cones as part of training. The driver training consists of watching videos. I know I was the addlee driver trainer…

  • carltonreid

    Perhaps. But there will lots of people watching.

  • carltonreid

    If Alistair isn’t a cyclist he’s done an awful lot of research over the last few days on the off chance he be asked whether he cycles: he knew cycle-specific terms, he described the state and placement of bike paths in London which I also know, and he knew terms like ‘sportive’. He also described recent purchases of bike kit and told me where he bought the kit, it all rang true.nnOn one of the videos I’ve linked to recently, there’s snippets from which to reconstruct part of the Addison Lee driver training programme. ‘Silver’ level has a wee bit of cycle awareness. This part will be beefed up.nnThe cycle training for drivers is the more welcome of the moves and might, indeed, be little more than a PR exercise but that Addison Lee is even talking about it is progress.

  • Bill Chidley

    Should have asked them whether any of their bicycle couriers have had any cycle training, or carry 3rd party insurance.

  • carltonreid

    I saw one of their cycle couriers yesterday. Didn’t look an awful lot like any of the drivers. None of my pieces – on here or on BikeBiz – have focussed on Addison Lee’s cycle couriers. I’ll dig into that subject later. For now it’s the driver’s training I’m most interested in.

  • Derek Walsh

    Isn’t that the desired result? The company is being threatened with a boycott because of their poor relations with a section of the public (cyclists). They have responded by taking steps to improve these relations.

  • Tony Evershed

    Whether or not it’s a PR stunt, it’s the right thing to do (and provides a stick with which to beat him if Addison Lee reneges), and may make Mr Griffin et al. think twice before making inaccurate or ill-judged remarks in the future.nnOn the matter of bus lanes, TBH I think the least-worst solution may be to say the only legitimate reason for a taxi or a minicab to be in there is to pick up a fare (for, say, 50 metres or less) or – that would satisfy the “ply for hire” requirement of taxis as well as (to a certain extent) the question AL have raised of equality between businesses, while keeping the lane from being choked by general motor traffic.nnNo doubt there’s a reason why this wouldn’t work, of course.u00a0 ;-)

  • stuart

    He is the PR exec, what do you expect….Gull E Bull…!!

  • carltonreid

    PR stands for public relations. PR is more than just media relations and Addison Lee’s PR exec knows he has to deliver on his promise. nFor sure the cycle training could be just a PR stunt, aimed at the media, but there will be lots of eyes watching. nAddison Lee has started the ball rolling. This is a Good Thing. From small acorns big oak trees do grow.

  • 1dangerouself

    “What you do in the dark will be brought to the light…” u00a0With eyes on the conduct of this public target, they will have to AT LEAST go through the motions of living up to their spoken words.

  • Alistair

    I’m flattered you think I am young enough to still be an exec, I am actually the PR manager and have got the budget signed off for the cycle training, so it’s 100% happening whatever Stuart says. We’ll be inviting Carlton to attend and believe it or not John Griffin has said he might join us too.nnNot that it really matters but I am a cyclist -u00a0 I was a weekend rider,u00a0 but this whole episode and meeting Dave and Carlton has encouraged me to start commuting during the week as well.nnCarlton thanks for the tip on the Bikehub app too, very impressive.n

  • carltonreid

    Good to hear all that.nnI’ll definitely come down for the cycle training sessions. David is said to be excellent and even old hands such as me can learn stuff. nOn the app front, make sure you get a handlebar mount for your smartphone. And don’t use earbuds when riding…

  • stuart

    I will be looking out for you then, flying past in Lycra….

  • Peterk

    I know one of their dispatchers is a cyclist too as I gave him a cycle lesson (I’m an instructor)nWell done for this, maybe they can dig themselves out of their hole and make us happy too.

  • arthur

    How is the Rain & Lycra going Alistair…?

  • Cole

    Personally I feel there is ample need to make passing a bikeability test mandatory before you can ‘graduate’ to a tonne of lethal machinery. u00a0Being a cyclist makes me a far u00a0 better driver and gave me a head start when I began driving lessons. u00a0This way all motorists will identify with the needs of those on bikes and hopefully be better motorists for the experience. u00a0nnnWe have a ‘PlayStation’ generation coming through onto the roads now with an obsessive dependency on smartphones who have no comprehension of that government driven myth called road safety, this I’m sure is only going to result in more waves of ‘accidental’ deaths :-(nnSO BORED of car death complacency! u00a0Wake up government…please!

  • Fred that was nearly dead

    based on the driving I witnessed yesterday a lot more effort needs to be made to improve!!