Posted: 20 April 2012
I've been riding a bike in London since 1978. I'm pleased to see many more other cyclists these days but it's got infinitely more dangerous. Anyone jumping on to two wheels needs to be prepared for anything at any moment. My dreams about flying through the air used to be about dancing; now they’re more likely to be nightmares about getting knocked off my bike by an Addison Lee cab.
The last few days have seen a media storm blowing ever more furiously around the mini-cab firm Addison Lee, with whom The Place has a company account. Initially a flurry of concern arose from comments about the use of bus lanes by mini-cabs when the head of the company, John Griffin, instructed his drivers to illegally use London's bus lanes, sparking threats of legal action from Transport for London. London taxi drivers who were also cyclists were quoted as saying this would put more cyclists at risk. In the last 24 hours Griffin provoked further controversy with his views on the rise in the number of cyclists killed on the capital's roads. It’s not a pretty read, especially if you are a cyclist.
Unsurprisingly, with the crassness of Griffin's comments, Addison Lee is a trending topic on Twitter and Jenny Jones, London Mayoral candidate for the Green Party, has responded. Addison Lee appear to be suffering a full-blown Goldman Sachs 'muppet' moment. It's a PR disaster, and one wonders how much harm it will cause to their business. So far, the evidence on in the Twittersphere is that a great many people, including former Labour Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, are already cancelling their accounts or vowing never to use this particular min-cab firm again. So much for the posturing of an arrogant 'can't touch me' Chair.
If I had one plea to fellow cyclists, especially those who regularly jump red lights, it would be 'don't!'. Not only does such reckless behaviour put other lives at risk, but it threatens to stain the reputation of all cyclists in the eyes of too many other road users. We could all do with a little more give and take on the roads, in the way dancers develop empathy in the studio or on stage.
After several near misses myself with Addison Lee drivers (not through my misdemeanours, but their drivers' negligence) and now the callous remarks of the company's Chair, I'm determined that The Place will cancel our business account with Addison Lee and find an alternative. After all, a dance organisation should know how to vote with its feet.