Saturday, October 12, 2013


On the TfL Website.

Haven't we had enough of the media getting it wrong?
Haven't we seen enough websites and adverts abusing our protected name?
Now, our own licensing authority can't tell the difference between us and PH
Have a look at what they are calling the green roundel displayed by private hire cars!

Taken from TfL website ^

If you're using a minicab, make sure it has been booked through a licensed minicab firm. 

Minicab drivers who pick up customers without a booking (ie on the street or outside pubs and clubs), are acting illegally and dangerously, even if they have a taxi licence disc in their vehicle windscreen.

Who is responsible for publishing this misinformed rubbish?
The whole directorate is falling down and no fit for purpose. 
After making inquiries, we found that the buck doesn't stop just goes round in ever decreasing circles and finally disappears up their TOLA.

With thanks to JPHG.

Meanwhile on the licence renewal front...

Dear Taxi Leaks
I renewed my license 7 weeks ago, it runs out tomorrow, still haven't recieved my new bill.
Was told problem due with printers. 

If they think I'm not going to work till I get my new bill, they can think again!
I called Palestra and found staff unhelpful, still unresolved after 45 mins on phone. 
Yet they took the license fee on the day they recieved my renewal.


Over 200 drivers are affected by this incompetent administration.
The renewal situation needs to find a common sense solution with immediate affect. Until they find a solution, temporary licences sent by first class post must be continued to be issued, as before.

Taxi Leaks will offer space for a reply from Helen Chapman, explaining why LTHP have stopped issuing temporary licences as the Hone Secretary said this situation is not of her doing.

At Last, It's Good News: Traffic-free shopping day in London's West End scrapped

An annual traffic-free day for Christmas shoppers in the West End will not be held this year.

VIP (Very Important Pedestrians) Day began in 2005 and attracted one million people to Oxford and Regent Street in 2012, garnering sales of over £17m. But that wasn't enough. Although tourists flooded into the Street, they never spent enough!

The New West End Company (NWEC), which represents businesses in the area, said retailers wanted to do "something new".

Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon said retailers should have built upon the popular event.

In the past, the day has seen hundreds of buses re-routed and shops offer entertainment and relaxation zones.

'Bitterly disappointing'
In a statement, the NWEC said: "We have had more traffic free events this year in the West End than ever before - there will have been eight in Regent Street alone.

Special events were held to attract shoppers on the traffic-free day in 2012
"In our planning for 2014, in consultation with our members, a traffic-free day will be considered."

Ms Pidgeon, leader of the Lib Dem group in London Assembly, said: "After a decade of growing success, it is bitterly disappointing that VIP Day is not taking place this year.

"Every year, tills have been ringing out as tens of thousands of extra customers have flooded into the West End to take advantage of streets free from noisy and polluting vehicles.

"Far from ending VIP Day, we should be building upon it."

Jeremy Baker, a retail analyst and affiliate professor at the ESCP Business School, said: "They didn't get enough money out of it.

"All the people coming to central London and dancing in the middle of Oxford Street did not go out that day and spend enough money in the shops."

The NWEC said traffic would be redirected from Regent Street on 2 November for a motor show and then again days later when the Christmas lights are switched on.

Oxford Street will also be closed to traffic on 12 November when its Christmas lights are turned on.

Latest on Addison Lee Bus Lane Saga ...

Following on from our previous friend or foe story...

Telegraph Friday 11 Oct.

Part of minicab operator Addison Lee’s legal battle to win the same rights to use bus lanes as London’s iconic black taxis is heading for the European Court of Justice after the British court asked for a ruling on European anti-competition law.

The court has requested a European ruling on whether “making a bus lane on a public road available to black cabs but not minicabs, during the hours of operation of that bus lane, involves the use of ‘State resources’ of Article 107 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union”.

This is the section of the European Treaty originally intended to stop member nations from illegally supporting their major industries to give them advantages over other nations It was used to force RBS to sell hundreds of bank branches as a condition of its huge state bail-out during the financial crisis.

The ruling could ultimately mean the right to use London’s roads could be decided across the Channel in the Luxembourg-based court.

Addison Lee, through its subsidiary Eventech, has been fighting with Transport for London (TfL) for several years to win equal rights to black cabs. In April the battle reached the Court of Appeal with a ruling now awaited.

However, only in recent weeks have documents been officially released which revealed the court wanted a European decision on state aid.

A spokesman for Addison Lee said: “We are pleased that the matter has been referred to the European Courts as we believe that the current legislation is a breach of the EU and UK law. 

You can’t discriminate between two types of taxis and we are pleased to have the opportunity to continue the fight against this injustice.”

When is someone going to point out to the court that we are not two types of Taxis!
Only one is a licensed taxi service, the other is a minicab business.

A TfL spokesman said: "In the original judicial review proceedings, we explained to the court that taxis are allowed to drive in bus lanes because they can ply for hire, whereas minicabs cannot. It would be more difficult to hail a taxi, especially on a busy road, if the vehicle concerned was not near to the kerb. Mr Justice Burton agreed.

“The Court of Appeal has referred to the European Court of Justice the issue of whether or not TfL’s policy, which allows taxis but not private hire vehicles to drive in bus lanes, amounts to State aid. Once the European Court has given its judgment on this aspect, the case will be referred back to the Court of Appeal for a decision on the wider appeal. Pending that outcome, we continue to maintain our policy on access to bus lanes and to contest the appeal.”

TfL should have pointed out that we are a metered service. Traffic conditions affect our price while having no affect on Minicab car services, which offer a fixed rate.
This is why we were allowed in bus lanes in the first place. 
Source: Telegraph.

Friday, October 11, 2013

New Transport Minister...Friend, or Foe.

Baroness Kramer. Transport Minister Appointed 8 Oct 2013.

Kramer began her career in finance, and rose to become a Vice-President of Citibank in Chicago.She and her husband then set up Infrastructure Capital Partners, a firm which advises on infrastructure projects, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe. She remains a director of the firm.

Kramer was born in Holborn, London, in 1950. She was educated at St Paul's Girls' School, followed by St Hilda's College at the University of Oxford, where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and was President of the Oxford Union in 1971. She then did an MBA at the University of Illinois in the United States.

Susan Kramer married an American banker, John Kramer, in 1972, while working in Citibank. John Kramer died in September 2006.

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) today announced the closing of a $517 million Collateralized Loan Obligation (CLO) fund, the firm’s third new-issue CLO in the US this year. Carlyle Global Market Strategies CLO 2013-3 will invest in corporate leveraged loans and high yield bonds.Citibank arranged the transaction.

What would Carlyle buy in Europe, that would cost 517 million dollars. ?

 517 mill USD would convert to £310 million sterling (at 60 pence per dollar.)

What would Carlyle buy in Euope that would cost £300 mill sterling. ??

Coincidentally,, Carlyle bought Addison Lee for £300 million. Does that mean Citibank actually own Addison Lee. Perhaps not.

Addison Lee's expansion plans require the Law Commission to repeal section 48 of the LGMPA 1976, which currently stops cross border hiring.

Has Baroness Kramer been brought in to speed the Law Comm up?

Addisson Lee are also awaitng a Court of Appeal decision. They want in on the Bus Lanes OR in the alternative, everyone out.

The judges in the Court of appeal and the Baroness, if asked if anything was afoot would, no doubt raise their hands into the air and say

"What ever are you suggesting."

Source: With thanks to Les.

Service From Palestra, At An All Time Low

LTPH Day Of Shame, Day 1.

LTPH have announced that they will no longer be issuing new badges and bills to knowledge students in person and that the badge, bills and IDs will now be sent out by second class post. 

After the scandal of the counterfeit badge and bills, which has led to increased B&B checks nightly at larger ranks (still ongoing after 3years), how can they take this step which will ultimately lead to documents lost in the post. 

I thought they were trying to save money. But they now seem to have plenty to spend outsourcing this new B,B&IDs by post service. (All part if operation Horizon I believe)

Below is the story if a Knowledge Student, bitterly disappoint at his treatment after so long on the Knowledge.

Went up on Monday 7th for my finals, was called in by Mr Wilkin.

He asked me five suburb runs after which he said I'd passed and it was all over.

He told me to come back at 2pm that day for my talk I then replied "is that when we get a chance to have a couple of pictures done"

Mr Wilkin replied that there is no badge being given so, no point in any pictures. "Fair enough" I said "but I was told by the lady on the phone who gave me my date that we could bring wives/girlfriends today".
He said that there must be some confusion as I'm on the new batch of students that are gonna be receiving their badge in the post.

" Ok" I said "no problem", even though in the back of my mind I was thinking this is terrible after doing the knowledge for over 4 years and having my missus take the day of work just to wait downstairs and not be able to come upstairs with me.

After the talk we were all told that by Wednesday 10th, we would receive our badges with our two bills and green window stickers. Today is Thursday and the badge hasn't turned up yet.

 So I phoned up, couldn't get a straight answer of when it was gonna arrive for definite! 

I asked what service they are using to send the badges and they don't know that either.
I have now lost the cab I was meant to be renting on Wednesday as they have now started renting to someone else, so if anyone has any good numbers for the south-west area for cab rentals I would appreciate??  
[This post was taken from the Wizann forum]

Apparently the badges have gone out by second class post !

Thursday, October 10, 2013

LTPH enforcement, still not doing there Jim Thomas

Fabric life Ltd (Safe Ride) regularly park their vehicles on the pavement outside Fabrics, while just a few yards away in Lindsey Street, Police and cab enforcement carry out Badge and Bill checks on Licensed Taxis.
Why do we not see action taken against these vehicles illegally parked on the pavement, illegally plying for hire?

Town Police Clauses Act 1847 Hackney Carriage. 

Sec 46. Drivers not to act without first obtaining a licence.

No person shall act as driver of any hackney carriage licensed in pursuance of this or the special Act to ply for hire within the prescribed distance without first obtaining a licence from the commissioners, which licence shall be registered by the clerk to the commissioners and such fee as the commissioners may determine shall be paid, for the same; and every such licence shall be in force until the same is revoked, except during the time that the same may be suspended as after mentioned.

Plain and simple, it is illegal for  private hire vehicles (licensed or unlicensed), to ply for hire.

From the institute of licensing: Private Hire, an overview.

The principal distinction between a private hire vehicle and a hackney carriage is that a private hire vehicle CANNOT stand or ply for hire or be hailed. It MUST be booked in advance. A further distinction requires that booking are made via a third licensee, who is a private hire operator. The private hire operator must be licensed by the same local authority that licences the private hire vehicle and private hire driver, and the local authority must be satisfied that the operator is suitable to hold such a licence.

The operator is required to maintain records of bookings taken (hackney carriage drivers do not have to keep these records). These serve two purposes:
• Provision of evidence to demonstrate that a booking had been made, and that a private hire vehicle which picks passengers up is not unlawfully plying for hire;
• Provision of journey records can be extremely useful in cases of complaint.

In the original Town Police Clauses Act 1847 Hackney Carriage, the act of plying for hire is referred to as the "special act to ply for hire". The act to ply for hire is what drives on every knowledge student. It's the sole reason why students are willing to study, unpaid, for an average of 44 months. At present, PHVs licensed and some unlicensed, can be seen nightly, plying for hire outside numerous night venues, openly in plain sight. Rapes and serious sexual assaults are currently at an all time high. The Met Police PoP Wandsworth report puts current minicab related attacks, both reported and unreported, at around 22 a week.
In the LTPH staff manual, version 11 (Jan 2013), currently online, why is their no chapter or verse on the definition of plying for hire?

Why are there no guidelines on the license contravention of illegal plying for hire?

Since TfL took over responsibility for the licensing of Taxis from the Metropolitan Police, there has only been one case of illegal plying for hire to the crown prosecution service, which proved to be successful.

WHY has there been none since?  



Wednesday, October 09, 2013

London Taxi Drivers Anger Over Licence Delays.

Posters of the home secretary are being used by taxi drivers campaigning against delays in background checks.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said certificates proving safeguarding checks take up to 10 weeks to arrive.

It wants the Home Office to send certificates directly to Transport for London (TfL) so drivers can be licensed quicker.

A Home Office spokesman said the procedure was a matter for the body which performs the safeguarding checks.

Protest posters featuring Theresa May will appear on black cabs in London as well as on advertising vans and in newspapers.

'Angry and frustrated'

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said he had written to the home secretary and other civil servants to ask to remove the "red tape", but to no avail.

He said: "There are currently upwards of 200 drivers out of work, unable to pay their mortgages, rent and feed their families.

"Our members are angry and frustrated at the intransigence of the Home Office and this campaign is aimed at venting that anger towards the one person who could solve the problem quickly and easily but refuses to do so."

But the Home Office spokesman said: "The decision to not renew taxi licences pending the result of checks has been made by taxi licensing authorities - not the Home Office."

'Quicker and easier'

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) replaced the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority in December 2012, and it sends a certificate listing the results to the applicant instead of the employer once the safeguarding checks are done.

If asked, the cab driver then has to provide the certificate to the employer before getting a licence.

Mr McNamara said adding an option on the application form of sending the criminal record check certificate straight to the licensing authority would mean a licence to operate could be issued while the actual certificate arrives.

Helen Chapman, TfL's manager in charge of taxis and private hire, said: "This new system is causing delays for drivers, and we share their frustrations."

She said the Mayor of London had raised the issue with the Home Office, and transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy would be meeting with the government shortly to try to resolve it.

The Home Office said: "Three quarters of Disclosure and Barring Service certificates are issued within 14 days and the changes we introduced in June have made the system quicker and easier to use.

"Certificates can now be reused for the first time - eliminating unnecessary repeated checks - and they remain vital in helping employers make informed safeguarding decisions."

New York's 'Taxi of Tomorrow' deal with Nissan voided by judge

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City's plan to create a uniform taxi fleet was struck down by a judge on Tuesday, only weeks before Nissan Motor Co Ltd was due to start supplying new taxis under an exclusive contract.

The "Taxi of Tomorrow" initiative, which was to go into effect October 28, would have required every new taxi to be a Nissan NV200. Nissan was given a contract worth an estimated $1 billion in 2011 after a competition.

Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler ruled that the Taxi and Limousine Commission had overstepped its authority. In part, he relied on the same legal argument that doomed Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to ban large sugary drinks from city eateries, saying the commission had infringed upon the City Council's powers.

"The notion that New York City should have one exclusive 'iconic' New York City taxicab is a policy decision that is reserved for the City Council," he wrote.

The city's chief lawyer, Michael Cardozo, said in a statement, "We believe the Court's decision is fundamentally wrong, and we intend to appeal immediately."

When the 10-year contract was awarded, Nissan officials said they expected to provide as many as 26,000 vehicles to the city's taxi fleet over the deal's lifetime.

Travis Parman, a Nissan spokesman, said the company was considering its options, but it would still sell the vehicle to interested fleet owners.

"We are disappointed in the court's decision, but it will not prevent our plan to start upgrading the NYC taxi fleet with the Nissan Taxi of Tomorrow at the end of the month," he said.

The ruling was the second time a state judge has blocked the plan, after Justice Peter Moulton in Manhattan ruled in May that the initiative failed to comply with city regulations allowing taxi operators to buy hybrid vehicles.

The taxi commission then revised the plan to permit hybrid models until Nissan provides a hybrid version of the NV200.

The lawsuit was brought by Evgeny Freidman, a major city fleet operator, and the Greater New York Taxi Association, who claimed the commission did not have the power to force taxi operators to purchase a particular vehicle.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Another Bus collision: Elderly man mowed is down by Bus

A man has been taken to hospital after being hit by a 279 route bus in Hertford Road, Enfield Wash

An elderly man is in a serious condition after being hit by a bus this afternoon.

A man believed to be in his 70s was hit by a 279 route bus in Hertford Road, Enfield causing the road to close in both directions at its junction with Hoe Lane.

London Ambulance Service was called at 12.20pm and treated the elderly man for head injuries. The man was then taken to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London by London Air Ambulance.

Traffic around the area continues to mount and bus route diversions for the 121, 191 and 279 are currently in place.


As more and more Bus drivers are involved in collisions with pedestrians cyclist and other vehicles, surely it's time their training and testing was reviewed. 

Bus drivers  should also be subjected to the new advanced eye tests forced on London's a Taxi trade.

Taxi Wars Come To Paris In The Form Of Bookable Minicabs.

Taxi wars erupt in Paris

Paris's taxi drivers are up in arms at a new breed of upstart minicabs who eschew the traditions of being rude and elusive.

Taxi war has erupted as the monopoly long enjoyed by the French capital's notoriously protectionist cabbies is being challenged by a new breed of bookable minicabs.

Parisian taxi drivers get a bad press for being rude, playing loud music, almost never accepting credit cards and turning up for a booked ride with €10 already on the meter. They are also notoriously hard to find.

Standing in a long queue at a taxi rank outside the Opera Garnier, one irate Parisian watched a string of cabs with the red "taken" light on their roof drive past, and exclaimed: "Taxis, taxis all around, but where's one when you need one."

Martin Pietz, a German Paris-based photographer, said: "One or two drops of rain and there are no taxis at all. When you do stop one, they can be very rude and if it it's not on their way home or to lunch they often say: 'Take another one, I'm busy.'

With just 18,000 vehicles, Paris' taxi fleet has remained virtually unchanged since the 1950s, while London's has swelled to around 23,000 black cabs and 40,000 minicabs.

Despite the clear dearth, Paris' powerful taxi lobby has successfully fought off repeated attempts to deregulate the industry and bring in minicabs - usually by bringing the capital's main ring road to a total halt.

Charles de Gaulle threw in the towel in 1958 after a two-day strike. Right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy capitulated in 2008 after a drivers staged a three-day "operation escargot".

Now, however, the undisputed reign of "le taxi parisien" is under threat due to a recent change to the law liberalising so-called "tourist vehicles with chauffeurs", or VTCs - the French equivalent of minicabs.

Yan Hasco√ęt, the 29-year old CEO of Chauffeur Prive,started with 20 cars 18 months ago and business is booming. He now has a fleet of 320 vehicles, a client base of 15,000 and is seeing 15 per cent week on week growth.

"Our drivers are dressed in a suit and red tie, they open the door, make you feel at home in the car, doesn't blast their own music and don't talk unless talked to – just basic service which is hard to find in France," he told the Daily Telegraph.

VTCs work on reservations and cannot be hailed in the street. But the advent of smart phone applications using global positioning means cars can turn up almost at once, enraging taxi unions which accuse them of bending the rules.

"We have to pay 240,000 euros for a new taxi licence, and have a strict area where can work, while they pay just 100 euros to work where they want and can do what they like," said Jean-Michel Rebours, Defence of Paris Taxis Union, UDIP.

To stop this, taxi unions are calling for on the government to impose a 15-minute delay between when a customer books a minicab and its arrival.

Minicab companies say the 15 minute rule is an attempt to kill off competition. "How can we tell our customers to wait another eight minutes when their car has already arrived?" said Mr Hascoet.

With a decision expected in the coming weeks, experts said the taxi lobby will pull out all the stops to get its way.

"The French government is frightened of Paris' taxi drivers, and has a similar relationship with them as French farmers as they protect the big players," said Richard Derbera, author of "Where are taxis going?" and member of the City on the Move institute.

"Almost 20 years ago I said to myself, this is ridiculous, there's no way we can go on like this in Paris. But we have," he added. "France will be the last to change."

Source: The Telegraph. 

More Rape Attacks On Unsuspecting Females Thinking They Were Getting In To A Minicab

This is the image of a man wanted by police over the rape of a woman in a multi-storey car park in south London.

Detectives released the CCTV image today saying the victim was picked up by the suspect as she walked home after a night out.

The woman, in her late twenties, was walking along Coldharbour Lane in Brixton when a man offered to take her home for the equivalent of a cab fare.

She got into a dark-coloured sports car which was later seen on CCTV driving towards Denmark Hill. The man drove to what the victim described as a three-floor car park where he allegedly raped her.

Detectives traced an image of the man on CCTV in the street in Brixton on Saturday June 29 after examining footage from cameras following the attack in the early hours the following day.

The suspect is described as black and about 5ft 5in tall. Detective Sergeant Steve Elliott, from the Sapphire sex crime unit, said: “If you know this man, saw him that evening in Brixton or spotted his car then please get in touch.”

MINICAB Rape in Camden

Police will be carrying out witness appeal this morning (Monday 7 October) to trace a man who helped a lone female following a rape on Saturday 5 October in NW3. 

At around 0430hrs, a passerby came across a distressed woman in her 20s, who detectives believe was raped in a vehicle in Eton Avenue or the surrounding streets. 

Police were called to the scene and an investigation has commenced led by detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command (SOECA).

Police are appealing for anyone with any information or witnesses to come forward, especially the man who provided assistance to the victim.

The victim is receiving specialist care at a Havens centre.

The suspect is described as a white male with slightly tanned skin, aged in his mid 20s to 30s, with dark hair and stubble on his chin.

Detective Constable Jenny Thrower of SOECA said: “It is of paramount importance that anyone with any information regarding this incident comes forward and helps us with our inquiries. I am also directly appealing to the man who assisted this young woman following the attack to come forward as he may be able provide us with vital information”.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the incident room on 0208 733 5999 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

Transport For London Index Of Shame: Safer Oxford Street Blog.

1) Total Number of Bus Collisions involving TfL buses (1 April 2007-31 March 2013): 145,533

2) Total Number TfL Bus Collisions with pedestrians (1 April 2007-31 March 2013): 3591

3) Total Number of TfL Bus Collisions with cyclists (1 April 2007-31 March 2013): 1219

4) Number of pedestrian fatalities involving TfL buses (1 April 2006-31 December 2012): 76

5) Year-on-Year % increase in fatalities resulting from TfL bus-pedestrian collisions (2012): +37.5

6) Number of TfL bus-pedestrian fatality investigation reports conducted by bus companies seen by TfL: 0

7) Total Number of Dangerous Driving Prosecutions by CPS (October 2006-May 2012): 360

8) Number of TfL bus drivers prosecuted by CPS for dangerous driving (October 2006-May 2012): 9

9) Total TfL expenditure on Metropolitan Police (1 April 2006-31 March 2011): £431,240,000

10) % decrease in London’s Road Safety budget since 2008: - 62

11) Year-on-Year percentage increase in pedestrian fatalities (2011): +33

12) Year-on-Year percentage increase in cyclist fatalities (2011): +60

13) Number of indicators relating to safe driving in TfL’s ‘Quality Performance’ Contracts for buses: 0

14) % of elderly and children among TfL bus-pedestrian fatalities (October 2006-May 2012): 33.3

15) Total TfL expenditure since 2009: £17,100,000,000

16) Total compensation TfL has paid due to accident claims since 2009: £4,760,000

17) % of total TfL claim compensation as part of Total Expenditure since 2009: 0.03
18) Number of TfL staff who make over £100,000 per year (2011): 365

19) Annual Salary of Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy (2011-12): £486,660

20) London Councils that have adopted borough-wide 20 mph limit: Islington, Camden & Southwark

21) London Council that controls speed limit on Oxford Street: Westminster

22) Speed Limit (mph) on Oxford Street: 30

23) Number of TfL buses per hour on Oxford Street: (up to) 300

24) Number of ‘desecrating garages’ Sir Peter Hendy claims necessary to eliminate Oxford Street buses: 2

25) Number of studies/reports/analyses upon which Sir Peter Hendy’s claim is based: 0

26) Annual number of Pedestrians on Oxford Street: 200,000,000

27) Frequency of Collisions on Oxford Street vs. London Average: 35 times

28) London Council with highest number of pedestrian and cyclist casualties: Westminster

29) Number of Killed-and-Seriously Injured from TfL bus/pedestrian collisions on Oxford Street (2006-Aug 2012): 59

30) Number of TfL Bus-Pedestrian Collisions on Oxford Street (2006-Aug 2012): 192

31) Lowest Council Tax in UK: Westminster

32) Local council that earns highest amount from parking charges in UK: Westminster

33) Amount Oxford Street Exceeds EU Norms for NOx Emissions: 4.5 times

34) Estimated number of hours it takes to clear lungs from Oxford Street Emissions: 7

35) Number of annual deaths in London attributed to Air Pollution: over 4000

Are The LTDA, LCDC And Unite Really Going To Sit Back, Do Nothing And Watch Our Streets Taken Away From Us?

This article taken from the Standard shows just what the City of London Corporation has in store for the Taxi trade. But have our trade orgs been party to a consultation?

Cars could be banned from two of the busiest roads in the Square Mile under plans to create a pedestrianised zone in the City.

The £10 million proposals will see many of the district’s medieval lanes and alleyways opened up with improved lighting, more greenery and clearer signage to help the area retain its status as one of the most important financial centres in the world.

Members of the City of London Corporation are understood to be finalising discussions which could lead to closing two of the roads that run through the junction outside the Bank of England – most likely Poultry and Threadneedle street or Cornhill.

The move is in response from workers in the area and to improve road safety.

If agreed, planning for the ambitious scheme will start in November, with the transformation complete by 2018.

More than 300,000 people arrive in the City for work every morning, A number of new skyscrapers in the area, including the Cheesegrater and Walkie Talkie, are expected to push the working population up further.

Property developers have given their support to the plans, which will be largely funded by a levy on new developments.

Victor Callister from the corporation’s department of the built environment, said the changes were vital.

“London’s unique selling point is its environment and its history but at the moment you can’t see any of that without being almost run over,” he said.

Tim Allibone, asset management director at Land Securities, which owns the City’s new shopping centre, One New Change, said: “The Bank junction is incredibly hostile. We find that workers on the west side often just don’t think it’s worth crossing over to get to the shops and bars on the east side.”

The proposals are yet to be voted on formally, with a corporation spokesman saying the plans were still in a “very early stage”.

He added: “We are considering all options to improve Bank junction given the growing demands on this part of the Square Mile. The increasing number of workers in the area means that pedestrian routes, cycle safety and improving traffic flows will be a major focus of any changes adopted.”

The corporation is investing heavily to improve the Square Mile. The plans follow New York, Paris and Singapore which have created city centre pedestrian zones and traffic restrictions in recent years.

Source: Evening Standard

Monday, October 07, 2013

Another Fatality As Woman Hit By London Bus:

Woman dies after being hit by a rail replacement bus

A woman has died after being hit by a rail replacement bus in north London at the weekend.

Police were called to Stoke Newington Road on Saturday were they found the 56-year-old victim. She was taken taken to hospital in a critical condition, but died on Monday morning. Her family has been told.

Stoke Newington Road near the junction of Princess May Road
Google image of Stoke Newington Road near the junction of Princess May Road Credit: Google Street View

Our Thoughts on Boris Johnson’s Latest Cycle Safety Plans

The recent  comments of Boris Johnson and Stephen Hammond relating to the creation of a Safer Lorry Charge zone and the possible removal of exemptions (under Construction & Use legislation)  which currently mean that safety equipment does not need to be fitted on a number of HGVs including construction vehicles has promoted debate amongst the industry with people taking different views.

The Mayor of London says lorries need to be made safer for cyclists. Alongside the Transport Minister, Boris Johnson unveiled a raft of measures designed to make it less dangerous for cyclists and Heavy Goods Vehicles to travel side-by-side in London and there could be a charge for HGVs which don’t meet the new standard.

The proposed London Safer Lorry Charge is partly modelled on the London Low Emission Zone, which charges up to £200 a day for commercial vehicles that do not meet tough emission standards. A new HGV Task Force would expand enforcement capacity against problem HGVs issuing penalties for vehicles that do not feature required safety features.

So what does all of this mean in reality?

Presently, the law allows older vehicles not to have the latest mirrors in place that improve the drivers field of vision, and also whilst many vehicles require side bars that push cyclists away from wheels if they are hit, there are exemptions to this and it is these exemptions that are now being looked at. The exemptions apply to a whole host of vehicles including construction vehicles and also waste refuse vehicles, such as that involved in the fatal collision in London yesterday.

Representing operators of heavy goods vehicles across the country means that my initial concern centres around the implications for hauliers, many of whom are already struggling to keep their heads above water. The cost of retrofitting on older vehicles could cause great difficult in an industry that is already financially struggling, and this could be a burden too far for some operators meaning that they could not continue with their work in the City. Increasingly hauliers struggle with the unique regulations of driving HGVs in the centre of London, and this is only going to further add to that confusion which in turn would lead to penalties being issued to the non-compliant. However, whilst this could spell troubling times and confusion for hauliers operating in London, there has to be a careful balance weighed up against the accidents that could be prevented if the proposals are implemented.

The Background to Concerns

When you look at the figures in London with 53% of cycling fatalities in 2011 involving HGVs despite making up just 4% of the traffic, you cannot help but understand the reason for Boris Johnson and Stephen Hammond looking at this issue so carefully. What is even more concerning, particularly for the construction industry is that vehicles servicing construction sites appear to be disproportionately responsible for cyclist deaths, as stated in a study earlier this year by Transport for London (TfL)  entitled “The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London”.

The report concludes that in the construction industry there is a “lack of ownership of road risk” with many contractors stating that before a delivery vehicle passes through the site gates and once it has exited, it is not their problem. It also found that “road risk is viewed as less important than general health and safety risk on site” and criticised the construction industry’s rigid approach to time slots citing unrealistic delivery windows as a contributing factor to the high incident rate.

A number of recommendations were made in that report including doing more work on blind spots on lorries, however, there was no mention at that stage of the possible introduction of a Safer Lorry Charge zone or the possible removal of exemptions for construction vehicles from fitting sidebars.

Responsible operators using vehicles in and around London are often already taking steps above and beyond their legal requirements to make their vehicles as safe as possible for bicycles,

One example of a proactive and responsible approach being adopted by one of London’s largest construction projects is at the Crossrail project which has implemented requirements on contractors’ large delivery vehicles in a bid to improve cycle safety and to prevent death arising from HGVs involved in the project. Requirements are written into contracts and are rigidly enforced and include:

  • Blind spot proximity sensors and warning alerts for cyclists;
  • “Fresnel lenses” for better driver field of view;
  • Side scan equipment which results in an audible tone in the cab if a cyclist is detected on the left inside of the vehicle;
  • Guards to prevent cyclists from coming into contact with lorry wheels and;
  • Better vehicle signage to warn cyclists and pedestrians.

HGVs not meeting the standards are turned away from sites and any costs incurred as a result are levied on the contractor. This applies both to HGVs operated directly by a contractor or those operated on their behalf by a haulier. All Principal Contractors involved in the £14bn project are committed to the strategy and share the view that ultimately this should lead to the raising of standards across the construction industry and potentially the rest of the haulage industry.

This project is a great example of ultimate best practice, however, there are many vehicle operators that have chosen to implement increased mirrors, guards and sensors to their vehicles which are operating in the City.

Aside from the obvious benefits of preserving life and reducing serious injuries, and the stress and trauma that invariably follows, measures such as these are becoming less expensive and will soon be widely regarded as ‘basic measures’ which are expected to be in place in order for an operator to demonstrate that their organisation has done all that is reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of employees and other persons. Involvement in serious incidents not only will attract the attention of the Police and health and safety enforcement agencies, but can result in a call to appear in front of the Traffic Commissioner who can ultimately revoke an operator’s licence.

I regularly advise my clients operating HGVs to regularly review and test their health and safety systems, policies and procedures in order to ensure that they are able to demonstrate a proactive approach to the management of risk and where proposals such as those from Hammond and Johnson arise, hauliers are best advised to consider the points being made and if they could make changes to their fleet.

The other side of the coin

I have represented a HGV driver who was prosecuted following a collision with a cyclist in central London and through that case, gained a greater understanding of the difficulties that drivers encounter with cyclists in London. Whilst everybody’s safety is paramount and means of protecting the safety of others should always be looked at and improved (so far as is reasonably practicable) there comes a point where you have to ask, is it reasonably practicable to have every safety feature on the market fitted on to vehicles as they become available to the market? Where does it stop?

Due to the number of cyclists in London and heavy vehicle traffic that share the roads, London will always offer a skewed figure of cyclist/vehicle collision as compared to other cities. Again, I would stress that cyclist safety is a major area of concern and possible improvements that could be made to reduce accidents should always be looked into, however, HGV drivers often get an unfair press. There is no professional driver that would go to work with the intention of hurting anybody. Professional drivers often take huge pride in their work and looking after other road users; you only have to look at the hero lorry driver that blocked the carriageway in today’s pile up in Kent to prevent further tragedy to see an example of this. However, unfortunately collisions do happen, but people should not be too quick to lay the blame at the door of the haulier without knowing the facts. Cyclists can and sometimes do act in unpredictable ways, undertaking other vehicles, placing themselves into blind spots, rushing to get on with their journey. Whilst it is very difficult to regulate the behaviour of cyclists and the equipment that they use (for example high visibility clothing / mirrors on their bicycles etc) hauliers are regulated and because of this they often have to face regular changes and updated requirements to operate their vehicles.

HGVs in the City

London takes the opposite approach to some other major cities in northern Europe when it comes to HGV operation by restricting the largest vehicles from entering the city during the night. This forces HGVs into using the road during the rush hours when the majority of cyclists are on the road. Night time restrictions on HGVs have been in place since 1985 and are designed to limit environmental impacts and noise pollution for residents. While this is a valid reason, it means HGVs have no choice but to use the road during the day time. Perhaps the focus should be towards these rules given that cyclist traffic in London has increased rapidly since those restrictions were implemented?

In stark contrast to London, in Paris HGVs are kept away from roads during peak hours with the largest vehicles only being permitted to deliver during the hours from 10pm to 7am. These restrictions have seen haulage companies there using smaller, low emission vehicles which are often newer vehicles with better visibility and an increase in ‘consolidation depots’ where loads are shifted from larger to smaller vehicles driven by employees with experience of the city. When you look at the figures, they say it all as in 2011, there were no cycling fatalities in Paris compared to 16 fatalities in London. From 2007, Dublin also made changes to keep HGVs off the roads there when they are at their busiest, as opposed to London which forces HGVs onto the road at this very time!

I am not saying that all HGVs should be banned in London during the daytime as this is clearly unworkable in a city that has so much ongoing construction, which needs to operate during daylight hours and also the fact that London is a residential city meaning that large vehicles are needed for domestic use such as waste disposal. But what I am saying is perhaps a wider view needs to be taken in London to protect all road users, and this would go beyond fining hauliers for not having the latest safest devices on their vehicles. It is perhaps this approach that the FTA’s Karen Dee was referring to when she criticised Boris Johnson’s announcement. Nobody working in the Transport sector would criticise a fair and balanced approach to increasing vehicle safety if it was shown to save lives, however, all alternatives should be looked at rather than just opting for the change that impacts the hauliers (and their pockets). By adding sideguards to all large vehicles you are still not addressing the issue that our country’s hauliers are being forced to use London’s roads at a time when they are at their busiest.


Vikki Woodfine

Head of Road Haulage & Logistics, DWF