How could Addison Lee repair its relationship with cyclists?

All last week the media section of the Addison Lee website was topped by a press release giving John Griffin’s (law-breaking) views about his minicab drivers entering London’s bus lanes. This press release has now disappeared. This could be significant. [UPDATE: it was. Transport for London's injunction was (mostly) successful. However, there's still some wriggle room for Addison Lee and the company has put out a bullish press release. The court verdict gives a fascinating glimpse into the mind of John Griffin. See base of article for details]

It’s very possible that Addison Lee expects – or has been told – its defence against Transport for London’s injunction will fail. [UPDATE: it did. Mostly.]. TfL was quick off the mark when John Griffin’s infamous letter to his drivers went viral over the weekend of 14-15th April: an injunction was lodged to make Griffin withdraw his letter. I spoke to TfL yesterday and a spokesman said the injunction result was expected today or tomorrow. The withdrawal of the Addison Lee press release likely means Addison Lee knows it has lost this particular battle. The war will continue. Addison Lee has its own legal case. It applied for, and got, a judicial review on TfL’s bus lane restrictions. A decision in this case is expected later in the year.

In the meantime, John Griffin has managed to do something incredible: he has made black cab taxi drivers see eye to eye with cyclists. On the day of the #boycottaddisonlee ‘die in’, cabbies were giving way to cyclists, with a cheery wave of the hand. And cyclists were doing likewise. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ Taxi drivers had been fighting alone against Addison Lee – their attempts to derail the Addison Lee smartphone were piecemeal, obvious and ineffective until cyclists joined in. Griffin knew he had no friends in the taxi driver community but it was an act of extreme folly to open up a second front by picking on cyclists.

Taxi drivers may never be happy with Addison Lee, but perhaps Addison Lee could build bridges with cyclists? How could the company do this? Here are a few ideas. I’d welcome more. Add them in a comments box here, or talk about them on the #boycottaddisonlee Facebook page.

1. TRAINING
The Addison Lee driver training programme is said to now incorporate a few minutes on looking out for cyclists. This should be beefed up, especially as cyclists have made it plain they view Addison Lee drivers as some of the most aggressive and dangerous on the road. All Addison Lee drivers – new and old – should have to ride in London traffic for at least half a day. This will give them some appreciation of why carapace-free cyclists get so defensive about their personal space. Taxi drivers have some appreciation of two-wheel concerns because their ‘knowledge’ training programme starts with navigating London on a moped.

2. ROADS ARE FOR ALL
John Griffin should withdraw his comment about cyclists having to “pay up” to “join the gang.” His statement about ‘road tax’ shows he believes motorists pay for roads and that “freeloaders” such as cyclists ought to start paying, too. Griffin needs to acknowledge that motorists have no greater right to the public highway than horse riders, pedestrians and cyclists. Roads are a shared national resource. One subset of road users don’t have any greater rights to use that shared public resource. Griffin can start his education here. The Addison Lee training programme should stress the point that roads are for all.

3. TRAINING
John Griffin’s point about compulsory training for cyclists seems perfectly reasonable to motorists who have all had to pass a compulsory driving test. But as the majority of cyclists are also driving licence holders the majority of cyclists are already trained to same level as those who choose to be propelled by the internal combustion engine. Griffin needs to acknowledge this. He may also wish to acknowledge that there is an existing training programme for cyclists, young and old. Perhaps Griffin would like to step away from his Bentley for a few hours and do a Bikeability course? Perhaps the Addison Lee driver training programme could involve some Bikeability training?

4. SPLASH CASH
If Griffin can afford to drop £250,000 into the coffers of the Tory party and yet have no expectation of getting anything in return perhaps he should divert such largesse to projects with more chance of a payback? How about becoming a corporate sponsor of the London Cycling Campaign? Or funding one of London Cycling Campaign’s training schemes for elderly cyclists? (Yes, John Griffin could actually pay to make grannies less wobbly on their bikes). [Idea inspired by @cycloxoxford]

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TRANSPORT FOR LONDON’S INJUNCTION AGAINST EVANTECH/ADDISON LEE

Here’s the full copy of High Court verdict in the battle between Transport for London and Addison Lee. TfL won most of its injunction but had to drop one part, leaving enough wriggle room for Addison Lee chairman John Griffin to – bizarrely – claim outright victory.

Mr Justice Eder said it was “necessary and just and convenient” to grant TfL a temporary injunction stopping Evantech/Addison Lee from “encouraging” its minicab drivers to enter London’s bus lanes. It’s temporary because there’s a Addison Lee requested judicial review on the way.

Monday’s ruling – revealed today – prevents Griffin’s company from “causing, encouraging or assisting” its minicab drivers from using London’s bus lanes.

Justice Eder said: “It seems to me that unless an injunction is granted, there is a substantial risk of significant problems [with 60,000 minicab drivers entering bus lanes].”

Addison Lee’s wriggle room comes after TfL had to jettison that part of its case which sought to force John Griffin to withdraw his original letter sent to its drivers telling them they could enter bus lanes, and that he’d pay their fines. In theory, Addison Lee drivers can now choose whether to break the law or not and Griffin’s letter is allowed to stand.

26th April 2012

TfL press release:

TfL’s High Court injunction prevents Addison Lee from instructing its drivers to use bus lanes

· Court ruling also labels Addison Lee ‘indemnity’ as void and unenforceable
· Court rejects Addison Lee claim that an instruction had not been issued
· TfL urges private hire drivers to note the ruling and continue to obey the law

Following a ruling from the High Court today (Thursday 26 April) Addison Lee is prevented from instructing or encouraging its drivers to drive in bus lanes and must remove the statement on its website instructing drivers to do so.

The Court also declared that the ‘indemnity’ Addison Lee issued to its drivers on 14 April offering to pay for fines and other costs when they drove in bus lanes was “void and unenforceable“, and cannot be repeated.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said:

“Today’s judgment prevents Addison Lee from instructing or encouraging its drivers to drive in bus lanes in London. The court felt compelled to grant an injunction because of the substantial risk of Addison Lee taking action that could result in the law being broken. We maintain that Addison Lee’s instruction to its drivers was irresponsible and at odds with its position as a private hire operator.

“Bus lanes enable buses to move around the capital efficiently carrying more than six million passengers a day. We maintain that allowing tens of thousands of Private Hire Vehicles to drive in bus lanes would impact on the reliability of our bus services, and risks inconveniencing our customers.”

The interim injunction will remain in place until judicial review proceedings, on the issues of private hire in bus lanes, conclude.

Despite the instruction from Addison Lee we are pleased to see that, last week the vast majority of private hire drivers continued to obey the law and not drive in bus lanes.

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Here’s the bluff-and-bluster press release from Addison Lee:

TfL fails to succeed in its bid to muzzle Addison Lee over bus lanes

Transport for London has been forced to abandon its application for a mandatory injunction requiring Addison Lee and its chairman John Griffin to withdraw their letter to drivers stating that they are entitled to drive in London bus lanes and to send out a further letter instructing them not to do so.

Mr Justice Eder, who handed down judgment today following a High Court hearing on Monday 23 April 2002, has instead confirmed that it is for drivers to choose whether or not they drive in bus lanes pending the resolution of Addison Lee’s legal challenge to the validity of the bus lane legislation.

The judge noted Addison Lee’s argument that the bus lane legislation as it stands constitutes “flagrant discrimination in favour of black cabs” and against private hire vehicles and that this “gave black cabs a significant unfair competitive advantage causing [private hire vehicle] drivers significant loss”. The Judge recognised the urgency of the problem by ordering that Addison Lee’s claim should be expedited so that it is determined by the High Court before the Olympic Games.

In the meantime, the Court has confirmed that it would be entirely lawful for Addison Lee to decide, after any fine has been imposed on a driver for driving in a bus lane, to reimburse that driver in respect of the fine should it wish to do so.

John Griffin, chairman of Addison Lee said: “This is a great start to our campaign to challenge the unfair bus lane legislation. We hope to fully overturn the legislation to offer faster journey times to our customers and to offer a competitive transport service during the Olympic Games.”

  • Stuart

    You are assuming that there is a high quality of driver training…?u00a0

  • http://twitter.com/angus_fx Angus Hewlett

    Compliance. Breaking the speed limit is always a temptation for drivers, and it must be infinitely more so when money is involved. Breaking the law to increase your income is generally frowned upon by state and society. He could fit vehicles with black box data recorders & carry out spot checks for speed limit compliance – wouldn’t stop his drivers from running reds or using mobiles, but it’d be a start.nnFor that matter, a “How’s My Driving” hotline & email, encourage the public to report any abuses. His drivers are self-employed so it’s no skin off his nose if he docks their pay for infringements (indeed, while I’d encourage him to donate the proceeds to LCC/Brake/Roadpeace, nothing to stop him from just pocketing it). The man clearly understands high standards & professionalism, he should be encouraged to extend that attitude to his drivers’ courtesy to other road users & obeying of traffic law.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    This ought to be a no-brainer, really. But yes it’s very much worthwhile reminding the company about this. Black box recording is a great idea, and is something now done by insurance companies with young drivers.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    At Addison Lee, you mean? Or in general. Both are wanting. Both need improvements.

  • http://twitter.com/BCCletts Dave H

    An unlikely detail but the whole structure of how A-L and many other minicab operations work is needed.u00a0 nnWe’ve largely eliminated the HGV issue of payment by trip, incentivised to get a maximum number of trips per shift – maximising driver/operator earnings, minimising trucks required for muck shift (40-50 trucks making 140 trips/day on current Francis Crick site at St Pancras – 2 year closure of cycle route and no alternative provided too).nnPHC jobs are paid per trip, and drivers rent cars from PHC firms, but are forced to only take work from them.u00a0 Best drivers get most work, but need to get maximum number of jobs to make decent money – so jobs done in shortest time possible, and without the hours regulation of PSV/HGV vocational licence holders, drivers working long days – increasing risk of incident. nnTaxis are paid by time/distance consumed through taximeter (trip takes longer and you pay more), and close monitor of location & hours worked through modern radio systems.u00a0 Jobs now normally allocated by secure radio link as well as hailing on street/rank, so no distraction of mobile phone/texting or open radio.nnMaybe PHC should look at how to eliminate the ‘paid by the job’ regime, and review the pseudo ‘self employed’ status of drivers, with its potential deficiencies in job security. u00a0

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    DavennIan Austin MP has tabled parliamentary questions covering many of your points:nhttp://www.ianaustin.co.uk/written-questions-about-the-governments-relationship-with-addiso

  • http://profiles.google.com/1dangerouself Mark Brewster

    The delusional posting of Griffin’s interpretation of events would — and this is ironic in the extreme — label him as a member of the extremist Tea Party movement in the USA. u00a0To take truth and twist it to be a lie is a favorite tool of that hyperbolic group.

  • http://www.meloncholy.com Andrew

    I’d wondered about their drivers’ employment status too in light of Addison Lee’s offer to indemnify their drivers. Their drive for us page makes it clear that drivers should consider themselves to operate under contracts for services, but accepting liability for their actions in this manner creates an interesting wrinkle that could count against them should they be investigated re. this.u00a0nnMore generally it would be interesting to know if drivers are, for instance, allowed to use the car they rent from Addison Lee to work for another PHC (though see Ready Mixed Concrete), and indeed whether drivers are obliged to drive their car themselves while on Addison Lee business. Employee handbook, anyone? :)u00a0(Though I’m not legally qualified, so please take with as much salt as recommended for a healthy diet.)

  • Simon

    Absolutely. u00a0His claim that cyclists ‘need training’ would suggest he thinks his drivers are of a high standard. Taking positive steps to ensure his drivers obey the law and treat other road users with respect would seem an obvious step. u00a0nnGet your own house in order Mr G

  • Guest

    For someone that “employs” drivers that have not done the knowledge to suggest cyclists should “train up and join the gang” is a little ironic.nnIt’s no excuse anyway – even if cyclists did want training up, there isn’t anything that would ever make him happy.