I note there will be a protest in Central London this weekend, to highlight the Stop Killing Cyclists cause.
First of all, may I just say, that neither myself or I guess anyone else, would deliberately want to kill or injure a cyclist. Of that I am sure.
As an advanced and professional driver, I witness driving both good and bad in our capital on a daily basis.
As a London Taxi Driver, I would probably have my work cut out trying to convince our cyclists that I am not bias. The fact is, I'm honestly not.
Cyclists have just as much right to share London's roads, as anybody else. However, in all honesty, I am shocked at the abundant lack of self preservation that cyclists show themselves.
I have served in some precarious places in the world as a Guardsman. In every posting, I was thoroughly trained, fully armed and wearing as much protective body armour as I could get on.
Take it from me, the only reason that I am able to be writing this today, is not because I had a machine gun, not because I was professionally trained, and not because I was wearing body armour.
It was due to a bit of luck, but mainly a severe awareness of SELF PRESERVATION !!
The possibility of being blown up or killed was real enough to make me realise that if I didn't take the utmost care in every move and every decision that I made, I could pay the price with my life.
Which takes me back to our London cyclists.
I witness dozens of verbal altercations between cyclists and cab drivers as I navigate my way round London driving a taxi.
It isn't easy driving a London cab. We have two eyes, three mirrors and have been taught to drive to a professional standard.
In today's London traffic conditions however, two eyes and three mirrors is nowhere near enough.
For those who doubt me, it would be good to see you try driving a London Cab for a day. It's raining. The wipers are on full speed. Your headlights are on. The passenger in the back is irate. He is changing his mind as to where his destination is. You are trying to watch the traffic. Vehicles in front are stopping without warning. The rain gets harder. The geezer in the back gets louder. A police car siren screams from the nearside. You try to move over to allow it to pass. You cant. Theres a motorbike there. You inch forward to help the police patrol. The police get by. Hes left you on the yellow grid. You see the CCTV Enforcement camera tilt towards you. The copper's long gone ! Your excuse as to why you ended up there has melted into the distance! The geezer's still screaming in the back. He's going to miss his train ! The cab's back windows are steaming up !
And here comes the cyclist !! You saw him a second ago. Perhaps he's gone. No he hasn't ! he's on the offside now ! he's gone again ! Nope ! He's on the nearside and coming up fast ! Watch him ! You can't ! An ambulance is trying to get through on the offside. Move over. You cant, how about the cyclist ? He's not there anyway . You move over to let the ambulance have passage. "Prick !" The cyclist is screaming. He was there after all ! The geezer in the back has moved to the drop seats to tell you how important his train is ......................
You simply cannot have your eyes on everything. As much as one would like to, it is impossible to have a visual field whilst driving through the capital's roads, on everything that is occurring on the highway. But you try your best.
I was always taught in the army, that 75% of the human body is water, and intracellular fluids. So matter how tough or hard you may think you are, that fact is the bottom line.
I doubt that anybody would argue, including cyclists themselves, that the chances seen by the two wheelers by everybody during every day in London, are astonishing.
There are gaps that a cyclist can safely navigate through, and some that are blatantly not big enough ! But day after day, they go for gold !
I am shocked that not ten times more cyclists haven't lost their lives than the current figures show. And in honesty, I can attribute that mainly to cab drivers and other motorists driving in a professional defence standard, and literally saving the lives of so many of these bikers.
Wearing iphone ear phones is commonplace. What on earth would a cyclist be thinking, by disabling the ability to be able to hear everything around him, as he cycles through London ? Why don't they go the whole hog and wear a Lone Ranger mask as well ?
It's absolutely ludicrous ! Yet, we see it all the time.
Cab drivers take liberties, Ive done it myself. But if the gap aint wide enough for us, its the black paint that suffers, not the lungs and spleen.
Time and time and time again, day after day after day, I go to turn left after checking my nearside mirror, and a second before I make the turn have one final check in the mirror.
And there they are ! Head down, focussed, legs going round like a hamster in a cage and you would better your last breath on it, they aint gonna slow down for no sod !! And sure enough.....they don't !!
Another white bike spared from being chained to the railings, by a professional defensive driving decision on MY part. Don't expect a wave of thanks either ! You would be probably called a prick and have the finger for having the audacity to put your indicator on or even dreaming to turn left !
A typical and blatant distinct lack of personal preservation on behalf of the cyclist.
Every single taxi driver out there will experience this every single day without a doubt. I have actually thought about the consequences of if I had turned without that very last look in the nearside mirror, and I shudder at the thought.
That 75% of water is no match for a two ton TX4, and yet, it happens every single day.
We may all have noticed how the pendulum is swinging the other way with the attitude of the Police now. Not so long ago, it was the cabby and motorist who were the targets, but now coppers are hiding in doorways in the city and jumping out to nick these wannabe Evel Knievel's as they fly across the red lights like the Red Arrows.
As I said at the start, I have no grudge against cyclists using our London's roads and streets beside me. But unless cyclists have a real evaluation of their chances in a collision with a motor vehicle, many more will die under the wheels. Don't expect the cabby or motorist to protect you from a life threatening stunt, cos one day, that last second glance in the mirror may be unavailable.
Self Preservation is the key to a longer life in any field, and couldn't be more crucial than whilst cycling in London.
There are many ambitious, high drive, risk taking professionals in our capital, who get their living, their kudos, their respect and their bonuses from taking risks on Forex and the Stockmarket. That is perfectly acceptable and enviable in the traders office working environment.
But leave that confidence in your lockers on the first floor folks, before you put your helmets on, for Christ Sake !
And before you all start saying that there are poor drivers out there also, of course there are, I admit that.
Its just that, surrounded by the metal cage of safety that motorists do their journey in, any collision at 30mph is probably going to be a carbody repair matter.
But for the 75% of intracellular fluid coming up the inside on two rubber tyres, listening to Led Zeppelin on his iphone, it will be a tragic case of another can of white paint, due to a distinct lack of self preservation.
May I wish all cyclists, and all London Taxi Drivers like myself, a safer existence.
Look after yourselves, you only get one chance.