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.”