Saturday, September 07, 2013

London City Airport To Charge Taxi Drivers, For The Right to Pick Up Jim Thomas

Over the last 25 years, London City Airport (LCA), the only London Airport actually in London, has received an excellent service from the licensed Taxi trade at no cost. But management of the Airport have announced, they now intent to start a charging system similar to the one currently in use at Heathrow. 

There are plans for a Taxi rank fed by a feeder park, where drivers will by charged upon entry. 

The £3 charge to the drivers, should be reclaimable from the passenger by means of the extras section on the meter, similar to charges made to Heathrow passengers.

Drivers who work the City Airport are concerned that this may not be the case and they will be used as a revenue source. One driver we spoke to said:

"It's not the same as Heathrow where the jobs are much longer. The drivers out west don't seem to have any complaints soaking up their portion of the charge."

At present the charge at Heathrow is £5.22 with £3.20 reclaimable from the passenger. Local jobs are allowed back on the rank at no cost. But with the City airport, longer journeys are rare and unless the whole amount is reclaimable drivers may not accept these new measures with the possibility of militant action being taken. 

The decision of course, lies with TfL and any extras charged to the passenger would have to be included in the fare rise consultation for 2014.

If this is handled with fairness, logic and common sense, something we've seen little of at TfL, it could be a good thing for the regulars at LCA, as yellow badges from other areas can be seen most days without IDs displayed. Badge and bill checks on entry to feeder as drivers purchase credits, could stop this practise overnight.

However,there is a major problem with this system.

LCA intend to keep the private booking desk situated inside the terminal. The PH company display a list of fares which portray their service as cheaper than Licensed Taxis. If LCA introduce a surcharge that is passed on to the passenger, it could be argued that they would be able to artificially inflating the price in the favour of their PH partners who pay the management rent for their booking facilities. 

London City Airport is expanding rapidly, reaching their one millionth flight last year. This years statistics show a 25% growth in passenger numbers passing through the terminal.


What next for the taxi trade?

London City Airport and its passengers have since it opened enjoyed excellent service from the London taxi trade, a service that has been delivered free of charge to the airport. 

The move comes at a time when the Government via its Law Commission review are seeking to change the way the whole taxi and private hire trades work right across Britain. 

Under the review airports like LCA would be able to look at the possibility of doing away with the hackney carriage trade completely and opt for a an exclusive private hire arrangement instead. Stansted, Gatwick, Cardiff, and many other UK airports already operate this way. 

To add further worry to the taxi trade Transport for London in its response to Law Commission proposals see nothing wrong with airports applying extra conditions on taxis and drivers that work London’s airports.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Apple will officially reveal the next iPhone(s) on September Jim Thomas

After months of rumours and speculation, Apple looks ready to announce its next iPhone. The company has begun to send out invites for a September 10th event.

What exactly will Apple show off at the event? All signs seem to point to the iPhone 5S, as well as the “budget iPhone”, currently known as the iPhone 5C. The iPhone 5S should be a fairly standard upgrade over the company’s existing model. It’s expected to retain the same design as the iPhone 5, but include a faster processor, improved camera, and possibly even a fingerprint scanner.

The iPhone 5C, meanwhile, has been rumoured to fill out the lower-end of the market. The handset will reportedly feature the same 4-inch Retina Display as the flagship iPhone, but eschew the aluminium unibody for a polycarbonate build to keep costs down. It’s also believed to use slower internal components, and the camera will most likely see a downgrade over current models too.

We’ll find out exactly what Apple has in store for the world on September 10th, and we’ll cover all the news from the event as it happens.

The iPhone 3GS didn’t offer up any physical differences from the iPhone 3G, nor did the iPhone 4S from theiPhone 4. All signs currently suggest that this will be the case for the iPhone 5S too, with the handset sticking with the slimmer and longer design of the iPhone 5. Apple’s flagship smartphone still holds up extremely well even in the face of rivals such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, so we’re not too concerned about seeing the same design again.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Surfing For Porn...A Private Affaire....Or A Very Public Outrage.

If you thought that consulting adults surfing the web for details of escorts and hookers was their own business and should be treated as a private matter...
If you think that adults accessing porn sites was the right of employees working for the government and was also a private matter.. 

                                      WELL THINK AGAIN

Has anybody at TfL investigated the fact that adult websites are the perfect place to embed malicious software and malware viruses. Most adult contact and porn sites contain high definition images and video that contain complex coding, the perfect place to hide small viruses that can compromise whole systems, leaving them wide open to attack from Hackers, criminal gangs and even foreign government covert teams. 

First we had a top level employee of TfL, trolling the Internets adult sites in search of female escorts, who made contact with a £140 an hour Hooker. 
(Has anyone checked whether he used the TfL system in Windsor House?)
Just days later, we hear that this is also a regular activity of staff on computers in the Houses of Parliament.

I'm sure those in the highest positions are investigating the possible security breaches of top level computer networks, but this is certainly not a private matter. As tax payers we are all entitled to know what government employees do in the time we pay for.  

Just when you thought it couldn't get any more ludicrous, this article from the Daily Mail (one of the only three media outlets to carry the Hendy Story last week)

Pentagon orders missile defence staff to stop watching porn on office computers

Workers at the Missile Defence Agency were caught downloading x-rated material on office computers and sharing them with each other via the internal network

Fears raised that criminals or spies may have hacked agency's mainframe
Porn sites provide perfect cover for hackers to smuggle spying software past sophisticated firewalls
MDA is responsible for developing, fielding and upgrading the nation’s ground-and sea-based missile defense programs

Not the job in hand: The Missile Defence Agency workers should have been developing rockets like this SM-3 rather than looking at pornography

The Pentagon has ordered staff at its top-secret missile defence unit to stop watching porn and concentrate on the job in hand.

Military chiefs are furious that workers at the Missile Defence Agency have been wasting valuable hours surfing the web for smut rather than developing state-of-the-art weaponry.

The violation came to light after fears were raised that viruses may have already been smuggled into the department's mainframe through x-rated sites.

An internal probe then found that some staff had been downloading adult material on office computers and sharing them with each other via the internal network.

It constitutes a massive security risk to one of America's most secretive agencies because porn sites provide perfect cover for criminals and foreign spies to sneak snooping software past even the most sophisticated of firewalls.

In a bid to curb the abuse, the agency's executive director sent a stern memo warning staff that 'appropriate disciplinary action' would be dished out to anyone caught surfing the net for smut.

'There have been instances of employees and contractors accessing websites, or transmitting messages, containing pornographic or sexually explicit images,' John James Jr wrote in the July 27 memo leaked to Bloomberg News.

'These actions are not only unprofessional, they reflect time taken away from designated duties, are in clear violation of federal and DoD and regulations, consume network resources and can compromise the security of the network though the introduction of malware or malicious code, he wrote.'

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta threatens Iran with military strike if it develops nuclear weapons... but Israel says the promises of force aren't enough

'Someone has a major, major problem on their hands': Panic on Wall Street as computer glitch sparks 'out of control' surge in trading

He added that anyone caught misusing the agency's network will face losing their security clearance and could be suspended, even fired.

Security breach: The Pentagon's defence chiefs are understood to have been furious upon hearing that some staff members had accessed websites 'known to have had virus and malware issues'

Agency spokesman Rick Lehner told Bloomberg that the memo was written after 'a few people' downloaded material 'from some websites that were known to have had virus and malware issues'.

One government cybersecurity expert, who wished to remain anonymous, said criminal gangs and foreign intelligence agencies, such as Russia, embed spyware deep within the coding of pornographic websites in a bid to access and harvest confidential data from governments and corporations.

Such sites contain high-quality images and videos that contain complex computer coding - the ideal place to hide viruses.

The Missile Defense Agency is responsible for developing, fielding and upgrading the nation’s ground- and sea-based missile defense programs.

Inside the heart of defence: The revelation constitutes a massive security risk because pornographic sites provide perfect cover for criminals and foreign spies to smuggle spying software past even the most sophisticated of firewalls (stock image)
It works closely with countries including Japan and Israel as well as companies such as Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

In July last year, America vowed to retaliate with military force against countries that sabotage its  computers in the Pentagon’s first ever strategy on how to fight  escalating cyber attacks.
Anxious to contend with growing internet incursions linked to Russia and China, U.S. military chiefs reportedly agreed that the most serious sabotage attempts should constitute an act of war.

The document was designed to tackle a changing world in which computer hackers could cripple America’s financial markets or public transport systems.

Source: Mail on line.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

MPs, Lords, Commons Staff have come under fire for accessing porn sites via the in-house parliamentary network.

Coming in the wake of Boris Johnson's announcement that he wanted to clear London's streets of prostitutes and his active involvement in the closing down of 80 London Brothels, we had the scandal of the Mayors transport supremo Sir Peter Hendy and his £140 an hour Hooker, exposed in The Sun newspaper.

We now find that MPs, Lords, Commons Staff have come under fire for accessing porn sites via the in-house parliamentary network.

Some have said, "as prostitution is in fact legal, then what people do in their private lives is solely a private matter for them and the people involved". 


A freedom of information request (FOI) has revealed that MPs, Lords and parliamentary staff have been trying to access porn websites thousands of times, every working day.

Following the freedom of information request, the House of Commons authorities acknowledged that users of the Parliamentary Network servers, including both MPs and their staff, have repeatedly attempted to access websites classed on Parliament's network as pornographic between May 2012 and July 2013.

According to the official figures, the number of attempts to access pornographic websites via the Parliamentary network peaked for 2012 at 114,844 last November and at 55,552 in April for 2013. At least 5,000 people are estimated to be working on the parliamentary estate.

However, the figures have varied wildly, with the peak in attempted access this April more than halving in the following month to just 18,436 this May.

This comes after David Cameron pushed for an "opt in" system for viewing online porn.

A House of Commons spokeswoman said the statistics do not prove a user "intended" to access a pornographic website as "a user may access a site that contains optional or automatic links to others, or other "pop-up" arrangements, which are recorded as requests."

However, the spokeswoman declined to respond to the question that such content which would likely be deemed "pornographic" on Parliamentary servers would not be found whilst surfing normal mainstream websites. The spokeswoman was unable to answer why the figure could vary drastically from month to month.

"We are not going to restrict Parliamentarians' ability to carry out research," the spokeswoman added.

This comes after Parliamentarians were revealed to have visited sites like "Out of Town Affairs" on Parliamentary computers, with the site receiving 52,000 hits in seven months.

Parliamentary officials refused to reveal exactly what their servers judge as "pornographic" due to "ICT security".

However, it is understood that the Venus de Milo statue, depicting the topless Greek goddess, is viewable on Parliament's network.

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, told HuffPost UK: “These figures highlight the fact that many people working in Parliament are spending far too much time on websites that have nothing to do with their job.

“The internet can be a useful tool for MPs and their staff when it comes to scrutinising Government legislation; however taxpayers expect their MP and those working in their offices to get on with their important jobs rather than spending time surfing questionable websites.

“It’s important that these figures are in the public domain so that taxpayers can see exactly how the time they are paying for is actually being spent.”

New ultra low emission vehicles strategy launched to help grow the UK economy.

Transport Minister Norman Baker today (4 September 2013) launched the government’s strategy to drive forward the ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) industry.

The new strategy signals a major change in the way vehicles will be powered in the future and reaffirms the government’s commitment to provide new opportunities for the motor industry to help grow the UK economy.

The minister launched Driving the future today - a strategy for ultra low emission vehicles in the UK during his visit to the annual low carbon vehicle exhibition in Bedfordshire.

Norman Baker said:

These are exciting times for the motoring industry as ultra low emission vehicles are the future for road travel. Our vision is that by 2050 almost every car and van will be an ultra low emission vehicle with the UK at the forefront of their design, development and manufacture. This strategy moves us up a gear in pursuing that vision.

As well as huge opportunities for the automotive sector, this will bring life-changing benefits to our towns and cities improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions and it will provide energy security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil imports.

We recently announced in our Action for roads paper over £500 million of new capital investment between 2015 and 2020 to continue to support the development and adoption of ULEVs in the UK. We look forward to working with industry on how best to use this money to make the government’s vision a reality as quickly as possible.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) is inviting industry to have a say through a call for evidence on how best to invest £500 million of funding to drive the revolution and establish the UK as a premier market for ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs). The call for evidence will be launched shortly.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

The automotive industry provides thousands of high-quality jobs across the country and we are determined to keep it that way. By setting out the level of our financial support up to 2020 we are demonstrating our long-term commitment and giving business the confidence to invest.

We will keep working in partnership with industry on where our investment can best drive growth as we support the transition to ultra low emission vehicles.

The government’s long term strategic approach will deliver:

  • a growing fleet of, and private markets for, ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs)
  • a network of charging points and other infrastructure making ULEVs an attractive proposition
  • the development of world class skills and facilities for the development of ULEVtechnologies leading to global export
  • a smarter electricity grid to benefit vehicle owners and the electricity system

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Chief Executive Mike Hawes said:

The UK must be a lead producer and market for low and ultra-low carbon vehicles. We’re pleased to see the strategy set out a longer term approach to the incentives, policies and initiatives which are needed to create confidence for vehicle buyers and manufacturers. We strongly support the collaborative approach with our industry which will help to secure the UK’s position as a leader in the development, production and use of ultra-low emission technologies.

Jim Wright managing director of Nissan Motor GB said:

As the driving force behind the UK’s electric vehicle market, Nissan has played a key role in shaping today’s strategy and we are proud to be working alongside government and other vehicle manufacturers to ensure that the zero emission market is accessible to all.

Nissan continues to take the lion’s share of EV sales worldwide, and earlier this year we launched the second generation LEAF with more than 100 enhancements designed to make all-electric driving more viable than ever before. We are pleased to see that the government’s strategy sets out clear intentions that will help incentivise zero emission mobility in the UK and open up the EV market to thousands more motorists.

Robert Evans UK chairman of UK Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Association (EVSEA) said:

UK EVSE welcomes the new ultra low emission vehicle strategy. From an industrial supplier perspective the continuity of government support for UK e-mobility mapped out in the strategy is of particular importance.

UK EVSE members are committed to advancing the development of best practice and technical standards for charging infrastructure, supporting the needs of e-mobility stakeholders including motorists, charge post hosts, car companies and government. UK EVSE continue to work with OLEV regarding options for the development and maintenance of a national charge point register.

The strategy sets out government’s 5 main aims.

Supporting the early market for ULEVs:

  • through plug in grants or other consumer incentives – providing certainty for investors and consumers;
  • by raising awareness of the benefits with a government and manufacturer-run campaign
  • by encouraging higher uptake in the public sector

Shaping the necessary infrastructure:

  • by providing investment for the installation of chargepoints in homes, railway stations and public sector car parks and rapid charge points for longer journeys
  • exploring options for a new network of hydrogen refuelling stations to support introduction of fuel cell electric vehicles in the UK

Securing the right regulatory and fiscal measures:

  • by maintaining tax incentives for the purchase of ULEVs until at least 2020
  • clarifying the tax position on ULEVs and providing more information for fleet managers on costs
  • working to secure ambitious but realistic EU emissions targets

Investing in UK automotive capability:

  • by working with the Automotive Council to develop and strengthen the ULEV supply chain and discussing with industry on where to target research and development funding
  • by working with partners to maximise the benefits for the UK from the move toULEVs
  • by offering £10 million prize to develop a new long-life battery for next generationULEVs

Preparing the energy sector:

  • by ensuring the forthcoming national household roll-out of smart meters will support plug-in vehicle charging

The government has more than 2 years’ experience of providing the Plug-in Car and Van Grants, the plugged-in places programme, investment in R&D in the ULEV sector and participating in the UKH2Mobility project. Each of these programmes has helped to inform the development of this strategy. We are publishing a number of research outputs alongside this strategy which summarise the key evidence that has emerged from many of these programmes, including:

Source: DoT website.

Woman gets parking ticket from Harrow Borough Council for dropping off terminally ill husband at opticians in town Jim Thomas

The wife of a man with terminal cancer who was given a parking ticket as she helped him into a shop says she is 'disgusted' by her treatment.

Beryl Cursons, 74, of Manor Way, North Harrow received the ticket while dropping off her husband Peter, who has bone cancer and a shattered spine, at an opticians in Harrow town centre.

On appealing the ticket the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service recommended Harrow Borough Council cancel the fine due to Mr Cursons circumstances. Despite this the council refused to cancel the ticket.

However when the Harrow Times contacted the council it decided to withdraw the fine.

Before the council’s change of heart Mrs Cursons said: “When I found out they were not going to cancel it I was just disgusted.

“I was horrified and it just feels like they haven’t listened to me and our circumstances and they just don’t care about what we are going through.

“There is no way Peter would be able to walk from a car park and it was the only way he could get to the shop. It just isn’t fair and just seems heartless.”

Mrs Cursons has been looking after her husband Peter, 78, for two years since he was diagnosed with spinal cancer and is his full time carer.

Councillor James Bond, who has been helping Mrs Cursons said: “This is not a case of trying to excuse an unfortunate motorist from a parking contravention.

“There were mitigating circumstances which the independent adjudicator has also recognised.

“I am glad that common sense and common decency has prevailed over this frankly offensive parking ticket.”

In a statement today the council’s head of services for collections Fern Silverio said: “The council has withdrawn this penalty charge notice, and we would like to apologise to Mrs Cursons and her family for any distress this issue may have caused.”

Source: Harrow Times

RICHMOND CIRCUS...SEND IN THE CLOWNS?: Our Roving Reporter Writes:

Whilst on an evening jaunt down Twickenham way, as I complied with Richmond Circus, I noticed on the grassed area there was a "we sponsor this roundabout" type sign. The sign was for a local minicab firm called Speedycars with their phone number etc. etc.

Well I thought maybe that's a thing one of the apps  or circuits could be doing to as they say "bring back the work" etc.
But then at the bottom of the sign and there in bold type it had the TfL Logo and the words "in partnership".

So now we have what should be an independent licensing authority not only permitting advertising by PH on their land, but positively endorsing it!!!!

Yet another kick in the teeth for the world's No. 1 cab trade from its own licensing authority.

We don't expect any favours but we do require TfL to be absolutely impartial and seen to be so.

I said at the beginning 'Send in the Clowns', could that be the new title for the meetings at Palestra of those  pretending to represent your interests?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Private bars 'using loophole' to open in historic Clerkenwell Green

RESTAURATEURS in historic Clerkenwell Green are being accused this week of using a loophole in the licensing laws to open private drinking bars.

The result, according to Clerkenwell Lib Dem councillor George Allan, is that residents are suffering from more late-night noise, nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Allan is responsible for introducing the borough’s first “saturation zone” in Clerkenwell. It allowed Islington Council to refuse applications from drinking establishments on the grounds that there were too many already.

Cllr Allan warns that restaurants granted licences on the grounds that they only provide alcohol with food are setting up “unofficial” bars where people can sit around and drink after their meals until the early hours.

He said: “These restaurants have become glorified drinking venues by circumventing the laws. They need to be identified and if necessary we may need tighter restrictions. Something must be done if residents are to get a decent night’s sleep.”

Cllr Allan is currently scrutinising plans by the Masonic Centre, which is seeking permission for an alcohol and late-night refreshment licence. 

So far, the council’s licensing committee has rejected one application and there is expected to be an appeal.

The Masons have sold the Sessions House for £6.5m to a company controlled by a businessman who wishes to run it as Clerkenwell House, an invitation-only, private members’ club catering for private events, parties and conferences.

It would not be a nightclub, according to the company, and there would be no dancing or instant admission.

Residents have stressed that they accept that the Sessions House – as one of Clerkenwell’s landmark buildings – needs to be safeguarded by having an economic use, but not at the cost of potentially introducing problems associated with clubs and pubs in the area.

Editorial Comment

Is councilor Allan going to introduce a saturation zone in regards of minicab Satellite Offices. Using a loophole in the a Private Hire Act where anything sppertaining to TfL policy, turns into "just guidelines" when challenged, satellite offices are springing up all over the borough with the obligatory line of touts illegally plying for hire outside.

Because we have seen a PH company evade the need to be in operation for the minimum period of one year, all new set ups will expect the same treatment from the licensing team at Palestra. 

Before any satellite office licence is issued, a taxi rank should be installed outside the main entrance of the premises. This should be standard practise and should have been negotiated by our respective representative orgs as part of the STaN report.

Source Islington Gazzette 

Monday, September 02, 2013

One Step Away From Tuk Tuks As TfL Consider Regulating Pedicabs (cycle rickshaws and powered or power assisted rickshaws and similar conveyances) in London.

Transport for London (TfL) is considering regulating pedicabs (cycle rickshaws and powered or power assisted rickshaws and similar conveyances) in London.

TfLs scenario envisages changes in the law so that pedicabs could only continue to operate in London if they are licensed

Current legal situation
Based on case law, which has examined the different legislation which applies within and outside London, pedicabs are defined as “hackney carriages” outside London, but they can be defined as “stage carriages” within London.

All three cases to date have upheld the ruling that because pedicabs in London can be defined as “stage carriages” and not “hackney carriages” they can be operated legally and fall outside the requirements for licensing.

The need for regulation (in TfL view)
A number of interested parties were consulted, both prior to and in the course of this study.
Meetings with operators and Local Authorities prior to the study were generally in favour of some form of regulation. Key issues covered in consultation in the course of this study were:
Public safety
Traffic Operation
In addition views were expressed concerning:
Fare regulation
Quantity/area licensing

The emerging view was that regulation could provide a means to address the specific issues raised and the particular concerns of the parties consulted.
In particular, a consequence of the present lack of regulation may be that a significant proportion of current pedicab operation is uninsured or potentially uninsurable.

Possible types of regulation
Four possible regulatory scenarios are considered:
Do nothing
Voluntary self-regulation by operators
Voluntary regulation administered by PCO
Regulation by Licensing
(Funny, what happened to a boris Johnson's call for pedicabs to be banned? Who's running the show, the Mayor or TfL?)

The first three scenarios do not require any changed or new legislation. If the chosen option is the introduction of compulsory regulation, the report considers suggested ways in which licensing of pedicabs may be achieved.

Project plan for a possible regulation scheme
The purpose of regulation should be to ensure the safety of the travelling public in London, and to give Londoners confidence that when they use a pedicab they are dealing with an honest and professionally run organisation with reliable riders and safe vehicles.

In order to give a clearer idea of how a regulation might be implemented if the decision is taken to go ahead, the report sets out a suggested regulatory regime based on Voluntary regulation administered by the PCO.

It is important to recognise that
the final decision as to whether pedicabs should be regulated remains with TfL
the decision as to how regulation might be implemented remains with TfL

Resource requirements
The PCO currently has no resources available which could be used to administer the regulation of pedicabs. Even if capacity was available, it would be reasonable to regard the provision of such resources as a cost to be borne were regulation to be introduced.

Based on the outline project plan, a working assumption is that once approval had been given, a voluntary system administered by the PCO could be set up to a stage at which operators could be invited to apply for approval within, say, six months.

The implementation of regulation by licensing would take longer, as the initial controlling factor would be the time required to draft, introduce and enact the necessary legislation. Further investigation is needed to identify appropriate forthcoming opportunities when legislative changes may be scheduled.

Costs and benefits
Were the full cost of regulation to be recovered, the average annual cost per operator (based on the estimated current number of operators) could be of the order of £5,000. Were the costs to be more closely aligned with the size of the operation, the cost to the larger operators could be in excess of £10,000.

Full cost recovery could therefore prove a major disincentive to voluntary regulation. If, as a result, fewer operators chose to register, full cost recovery would make the charges for those who did so even higher. Were regulation to be made mandatory, it is likely that there would be strong protests from the operators who would regard the likely level of costs to be an unfair imposition.

Thus it should be recognised that any scheme of regulation, whether voluntary or mandatory, is unlikely to cover its full costs of implementation and operation.

Any financial justification will therefore need to include an indication of how it is to be funded, with a clear understanding of the benefits to be gained in return for funding support.

Responsibilities and risks
Although it may not be regarded as an ideal situation for the travelling public, the current unregulated nature of pedicab operation means that TfL and the PCO can stand aside from issues of responsibility and risk.

A key issue for the PCO will be whether approval or licensing will give rise to any implied warranty in the event of an incident involving an approved or licensed operator, vehicle or rider.
A key issue for other interested parties is the need for clarification of the definition of pedicabs as compared with other types of pedal cycle.

There is concern that the current understanding of the duty of care to road users may be that cycles convey only the rider, or, exceptionally, two people on a tandem who could both be regarded as cooperating riding it. Recognition of pedicabs as a distinct vehicle type, whether through legislation or by implication through voluntary regulation could potentially highlight risks and responsibilities concerned with the conveyance of passengers.

Major cause of concern:
The TfL Solicitor is unaware of any legal rules which require the user of a pedal cycle to take out a policy of insurance.
(As clear as everything the TfL Solicitor has ever come up with: by user of a pedicab, does it refer to the driver or the passenger. Would this be the same Solicitor who lost the open and shut case against Diamond chauffeurs at Abacus?.... Time for a new Solicitor me thinks)

Can other vehicle types claim to be “stage carriages”?
Having identified the specific exemption from licensing requirements in London, it is worth considering whether any types of vehicle other than pedicabs may therefore claim to be “stage carriages”.

Relevant legislation since 1869, including amendments to the 1869 Act, has made reference to “vehicles drawn or propelled by animal or mechanical power” or, more recently, “mechanically propelled”. This includes legislation now repealed referring to stage carriages.

It is generally accepted that were the situation to arise in which any form of motorised vehicle (with the possible exception of electrically assisted pedal cycles, see below) was claimed to be a “stage carriage” it could be argued that it was covered by other, potentially licensable, definitions. This has not, however, been tested in the courts.

Legislation remains in force for the licensing of Horse Cabs, where horse is defined as including “any animal used to draw a cab”.

As already noted, it has also been established that a pedal cycle is not a mechanically propelled vehicle (Lawrence v Howlett [1952]).

Will TfL be looking to change the law and introduce electric Powered Rickshaws?
At present, we are one step away from a third world electric powered Tuk Tuk, driven by a person with no topographic knowledge, ranking and plying for hire. 
Source: SKM scoping report 

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Chariots of Fire Part 2: Malta's Burning Bendy Buses

Warning: Contains strong language 

A big loop hole in the law, regarding Advanced Cycle Boxes.

Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians all have to obey the law and follow the rules when it comes to our roads. But so do the police and local councils. The rules and regulations they have to follow are clearly laid down in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions.

The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (commonly abbreviated to TSRGD) is the law that sets out the design and conditions of use of official traffic signs that can be lawfully placed on or near roads in England, Scotland, Wales, and the Isle of Man.

If you receive a ticket for stopping in one of Boris Johnson's Advanced Cycle  Boxes at traffic lights, check that there is a feeder lane or gate, (break in the white line) for cyclists to enter the box (many don't have this). If not, the box is in breach of the TSRGD and no offence has taken place.

Poorly worded law could scupper Boris Johnson’s cycling czar Andrew Gilligan’s plans on cycle boxes

Gilligan was quoted as saying “At present, you have to have a police officer standing at the junction or in a police car. What we can do is stick a camera up and do automatic enforcement. That will sort out the problem.“

The cycling czars reasons for taking away responsibility for the enforcement of ASL’s from the Metropolitan Police seems to be that TfL can do a more efficient job using CCTV than the MET.

But Papers handed to Nutsville from a member of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee show a large fly sitting in the ointment for Gilligans’ plans for the safety of cyclists and/or depending on your cynicism raking in a huge amount of extra cash for TfL.

The papers contain an email from Alan Rickwood from City of London Police explaining why the current ALS’s are difficult to enforce, claiming there is an error in the legislation “They can currently only be enforced by an officer on the ground, and the officer has to treat the cyclists and other road users equally, meaning cyclists will get penalised for crossing the first stop lines unless they use the feeder lane/gate.”

The Police email advice from Alan Rickwood highlights two main problems with ASL’s in London; 

1. “Many ASLs do not comply with current TSRGD, in that they do not have a feeder lane of gate to allow cyclists to enter the box.”
2. Due to an error in the ASL legislation which left out the word ‘motor’ instead just referring to ‘vehicles’ meant that cyclists are also committing same offence as motorists if they cross the first stop line into an ASL when the traffic lights are on red.

The frustration is clear in the email when it says “My traffic policy advisor, Alan Rickwood, explained this to the DfT, TfL and others in 2003 and asked them to amend the legislation.” and “Changing the law to create a penalty for motorists only for crossing an advanced stop line will take a number of years. Probably, particularly as they have already wasted the 10 that have passed since they brought this poorly written piece of legislation out. They just need the will to do it.”

So to be clear as the law stands, all vehicles are prohibited from crossing the ASL when the traffic lights go red. Bicycles are included in the definition of “vehicles”, but are exceptionally allowed access where a cycle lane exists. If the legislation was changed to say “motorised vehicles”, the problem would lessen considerably, and make it easier to prosecute offending vehicles.

At present, any of the above cyclists who entered the box on a red signal, other than through the gate circled, has committed an offence.

Westminster 9in double yellow lines 'absurd'

Double yellow lines measuring just 9in (23cm) long in central London have been branded "absurd" by the council which commissioned them.

The lines painted in Caxton Street, Westminster have been painted between a taxi rank and some parking bays.

Westminster City Council said: "This was a mistake by a contractor. We are obviously not happy about it."

It added: "We can see how absurd this looks and we will make sure it is corrected."

Earlier this year, double yellow lines stretching 13in (33cm) were discovered on a street in Cambridge between parking bays in Humberstone Road.

These ones in Caxton Street, are four inches shorter than the previous shortest found in Cambridge.

Sources: and the BBC online.