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Respect

‘Due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others’

Comment by Jim Kelly – Chair Unite London & Eastern Cab Trade Committee

Any taxi driver would be aware of the reckless nature of a minority of cyclists near “Silicon roundabout” in Shoreditch. It was perhaps inevitable that the death of a pedestrian in February would occur in this location. For the last five years some cyclists in this area have developed a wanton disrespect for other road users, the law and basic road safety.

Why this area has evolved this dangerous habit is puzzling. But every morning between 8am and 9.30am the roads emanating from Old Street roundabout resemble the wild west. Bus lanes are unusable for either buses or taxis, bus drivers attempting to stop at designated stops need nerves of steel as do taxi drivers stopping to pick up or drop off or simply make a left turn. Red lights are ignored as are one-way streets.

I can think of at least two incidents in the last twelve months when cyclists have been victims, so this is not about taking the moral high ground, but the lack of common sense displayed by some cyclists is frightening. If this behavior scares and appalls me, encased in a ton of steel protection, surely a cyclist must be aware of the dangerous manoeuvres they are employing?

Clearly cyclists are not always in the wrong, but it seems that many often stick with the herd mentality and as soon as they see another cyclist doing something dangerous and getting away with it, they all follow in a sheep like fashion.

Other than the Old Street area, I believe most taxi drivers awareness of cyclists has increased and vice versa. Certainly, in Zones 1 & 2 I have seen a more accepting, if sometimes grudging, respect that motorists must share road space with cyclists.

Charlie Allison’s actions and his comments on social media immediately after should make cyclists wake up to the fact that they are not morally superior to other road users; that traffic regulations are not created simply to be disrespected. We all need to make our roads safer, but this should be backed up with just laws as well.

Charlie Alliston faces up to two years because he couldn’t care less about other road users, a young woman with a loving family has been needlessly killed.  Surely our laws now need updating and just as important, enforcing.

Pedicabs

On the theme of Safety and common sense, I saw two separate cases recently where tourists hired a pedicab outside Hamleys, with their children. The children, in both cases, seemed under 5 years old. The fathers both seemed happy to bounce their young children on their laps; no child restraints; no protection in a crash. Why is this dangerous & unregulated exploitation still being allowed to flourish openly outside all our major tourist attractions? As in the case of Kim Briggs, will it take an avoidable tragedy before anything gets done.

Respect

As a taxi trade, we are rightly proud of our high standards of safety offered to the traveling public. The recent allegation that Uber has been concealing sexual assault cases amongst its drivers would not come as a shock to many London drivers who have campaigned relentlessly for better safety for women traveling in minicabs, minicabs licensed by TfL. Clearly regulations on private hire operators and drivers are not rigorous enough. Women, especially women traveling alone, need the highest levels of regulation and enforcement when using minicabs.

Therefore, it’s disappointing to hear of the number of comments on social media denigrating the women TfL compliance officers who made an admittedly, naive and silly decision to instruct a taxi driver to remove a copy of Taxi newspaper from the front of his cab. Most comments are anonymous. Worse still, some comments are reportedly sexually denigrating the women. This is wrong and if it’s taxi drivers writing these comments they let the London trade down.

A recent example of a hospital refusing monies from a fundraiser where men dressed as highly sexualised nurses shows how times are changing. I am sure many men will argue that this is PC gone mad. But female nurses deserve our respect for the tough, underpaid jobs they do caring for our community 24/7, and shouldn’t be portrayed as sexual objects.

About women doing tough jobs; it’s interesting how many leading positions at Taxi & Private Hire are at present being undertaken by women. This is a long way from the male ex Met police types who formerly got tucked up into these positions, allegedly with the help of certain funny handshakes, or indeed, previous holders of high office within TPH who were reportedly happy to challenge taxi reps to fight outside The Ring in Blackfriars Road.

Whilst disagreeing with many issues being raised by Taxi & Private Hire recently and often feeling like we are walking through treacle on simple issues, the level of consultation and response on many other issues affecting working taxi drivers is far better than in the past.

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