Tuesday 24 April 2012

Addison Lee declares war

There's a theory in some cycling circles that the more people who cycle, the better it will be as everyone else will expect cyclists and be nice to them. Bollocks.

You don't get cut up by a minicab driver on a phone in NL because its not "enough people cycle", it's because everyone cycles, so they all know what it is like. And because the roads are set up to keep minicab drivers away from the schoolkids.

London -like the rest of the country- isn't set up this way.

There's another theory: that as fuel costs and congestion gets worse, more people will cycle.

Maybe. But maybe not.

Many of those people who try cycling will have such a bad experience that they will change their mind. It may be "they aren't properly trained", but you can't take the lane in a city unless you are fit enough to do 20mph, and ruthless enough to smack on the side of any vehicle trying to take that lane from you. Schoolkids don't get a look it.

Some of the people who try cycling will stick to it, learn the back routes round cities -and the Roads of Death that are almost impossible to avoid, even if it is just crossing them. If there's good parking at their destination, somewhere at home to keep a bike, they may stick to it and be happy -possibly even start campaigning for cities and suburbs to support their needs.

Will everyone else be greatful? Bollocks.

That same fuel costs and congestion is going to make everyone who drives even more angry and resentful.

You can see that from the hate comments in papers, in radio. "pay fuel tax", "pay up", "we pay", "fair costs". The more you pay to drive, the more you resent freeloaders, and the more you feel that you have the right to be there, and cyclists don't. There's also "Cognitive Dissonance": the more you spend, the less willing you are to recognise you made a mistake. People who drive feel they have paid enough to be there, and we haven't.

There's also the feeling of injustice that bicycles aren't stuck in traffic jams. Again, the comments complain about that "undertaking", "not staying in lanes". And of course "use bus lanes".

Addison Lee's actions fit entirely into this model

  1. The drivers have had enough of congestion, so want to use the bus lanes. Griffin thins he has the political clout to get the rules changed, win new accounts, and have his drivers get more customers/day.
  2. Griffin is also fed up with the amount of money he feels that his company pays to be on that road, and that we, the cyclists, don't deserve any space.

That's why he wants the bus lanes: money.

The rant about cyclists being untrained and diving under his cars? That's just resentment about the growing number of bicycles. View that as a measure of success.

After all, he's done more to give Addison Lee Cabs a bad reputuation than any number of youtube videos has done. He's got the cyclists and black cabs allied. And he's even got the Daily Mail on our side.

That means he's done more for cycling in a week than Boris Johnson has in four years.


  1. Interesting take on the psychology of drivers that I have not heard before. It is not really cognitive dissonance because the drivers are not trying to reconcile two conflicting ideas. It is more a form of entitlement where the drivers feel that they merit a better travel experience than the cyclists because the journey is costing them more. The idea that this will get worse as fuel costs rise seem novel to me and eminently justifiable. I hope other bloggers pick up on this idea and that it gains wider currency. It is a very relevant fear, and given what we know of human nature, seems to me a more likely outcome than drivers suddenly starting to cycle and/or become nice to cyclists.

  2. It's war, but they are always going to be better armed. Let's just hope that other motoring "Generals" are as indiscretely verbose as Griffin, making them an obvious target and gaining cyclists some unlikely allies.

    We don't have the armour but can use the technology. I loved the one star ratings attack on Addison Lee's Apps for instance. This can really get to them and going for the advertisers and business users that prop up such pillars of their industry.