Saturday, November 23, 2013

Nine Elms, Cycling City, Within A City: Consultation.

Over the coming decade, Nine Elms on the South Bank will transform into a new neighbourhood of central London. At the same time, cycling mode share is expected to increase, with many more journeys in London being made by bicycle.

The transformation of Nine Elms provides a unique opportunity to integrate cycling into the area. Designing for Cycling identifies the characteristics of a successful cycling environment, analyses the context of the area and makes recommendations for the implementation of an urban area that is easily accessible by bicycle.

Transport for London have produced a draft strategy which they are now consulting on, and they would welcome your views.

If you have any comments on the draft strategy, please forward these by email to  by 12:00 noon on Monday 25 November.

To view the draft cycling strategy for Nine Elms on the South Bank please  click here

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Chinese are coming: Was LTC Only Saved To Use As Distribution For Geely Cars?

The London Taxi Company has been ferrying the city's passengers around for more than 60 years, ensuring its brand is recognised the world over.

But the famous company no longer has a monopoly on the streets
It is facing competition from the likes of Mercedes and Nissan
The company must innovate to ensure it doesn't struggle, as it has in the past

Walk through London's streets today and you will see this iconic company, which has some of the globe's most knowledgeable cabbies, no longer has a monopoly on London's market.
According to David Bailey, of the Aston Business School, the competition "was opened up some time ago."

Bailey said, LTC has been "losing market share to the likes of Mercedes, who can take a van and produce it in very big numbers, and get their cost down and convert some of them into taxis. Much more difficult, then, for the London Taxi firm to compete with them .....they are producing in small volumes at higher cost."

And this is where many of the taxi company's problems lie.

I had the opportunity to film at their Coventry factory last year and see the work they do first-hand. But a week after my visit, the company, then owned by Manganese Bronze, filed for administration after failing to have turned a profit since 2007.

To add their troubles, the company also discovered a safety defect in its new TX4 model, leading to the recall of 400 cars and a stop in further taxi sales.

But a year is a long time in business and today, The London Taxi Company is back from the brink, after being bought by Chinese automotive giant Geely for £11 million.
While I am glad that production has resumed and their very skilled workers have their jobs back, I am apprehensive about the future of their UK factory.

The vice president of The London Taxi Company, Peter Johansen, told me their factory will produce 1,400 vehicles for the UK market -- that's 12 vehicles a day.
It's hardly going to swell their coffers.

To add to that, workers here won't exactly be putting their creativity to good use. As I found out, these vehicles will simply be assembled here with pieces that come from Shanghai.

The set-up begs the question: What's the real reason for keeping a production base in the UK?

According to Bailey, "this is about Geely buying The London Taxi Company to act as a distributor of Geely cars, which will be arriving fairly soon to the UK and European markets. So, it's very much a case of the Chinese are coming, in quite a big way."
So for now, Geely is testing the ground in Europe; preparing it for their arrival.

Johansen tells me the company is gaining ground globally. "They will move into Western Europe and other places eventually, but their focus is on the markets closer to home in China where they are made," he said.

"I think when they have established those markets, and become established in those markets, I think you will see then start to manufacture outside China," he said.

In the meantime, they face a challenge: How to improve their taxis? And how do they compete with the cheaper and lighter Eco City Vehicle which is customized by Mercedes-Benz? 
Japan's Nissan is also reported to be launching a taxi for the London market.

But Johansen welcomes the challenge. "Competition is always healthy," he said. "You have to be able to compete in your product and we produce the elite taxi that everybody will like to have, so I'm not frightened by any competition."

That may work while there is cash available. But to secure a less bumpy future, they need to innovate. Being an icon may no longer be enough.

Source CNN. 

Editorial comment
Couple of huge mistakes in this article from the CNN website.
And how do they compete with the cheaper and lighter Eco City Vehicle which is customized by Mercedes-Benz? 

Firstly, the Mercedes Vito Taxi is over 20% more expensive than the TX4.
Secondly, the Mercedes was not made by Eco City and customised by Mercedes Benz, it's the other way round.

Please send any complaints about the article to CNN and not Taxi Leaks. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Man, 27, dies after being dragged 100 yards down Essex Road by Minicab.

A man has died after being dragged 100 yards down a north London street by a car he was clinging on to, Scotland Yard has confirmed.

Police said they believed the 27-year-old had been leaning through the passenger side window of the black Vauxhall Zafira having a conversation with its driver when the vehicle drove off.

Officers were called to Essex Road, with the junction of Ockendon Road, at 1.55am on Sunday.

A spokesperson said: “After being carried along for 75 to 100 yards, the victim lost his grip and fell to the ground, suffering a serious head injury as a result.”

“The driver of the car did not stop at the scene but was subsequently arrested in connection with the incident after attending a north London police station.

“The 57-year-old has since been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in early January.”

Scotland Yard is continuing to appeal for information regarding the incident.

A post-mortem has been scheduled to take place at Poplar Mortuary tomorrow and an inquest will open in due course.

Contact investigators on 020 8842 1817 with any information.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Taxi drivers’ emotional farewell to cancer victim Dave

NEARLY 30 taxis joined a funeral procession to give a popular cabbie a proper send-off.

Dave Tenant, 63, who was based at the rank at Benflett station, died after a six- month battle with cancer.

His colleagues followed the funeral cortege to Woodside Cemetery, in Manor Road, Thundersley.

After the packed service family and friends made their way to the Anchor Inn,on Essex Way, Benfleet, for the wake.

Friend and colleague Geoff Bradley said: “People were having to stand at the back of the chapel because so manymourners turned up, which says a lot about the type of person Dave was. He got the send-off he deserved.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TfL Bid To Make Profit From Taxi Drivers: New Handheld Devices To Issue Fixed Penalty Notices.

Coming to a rank near you, TfL's new mobile cash cows

Compliance officers are to be issued with new handheld devices.

Handhelds will be capable of scanning barcodes printed on the new licences, which will instantly bring up the licence holder’s details. Handhelds will also allow the printing of notices on the street, enabling the compliance team to spend less time in the office completing paperwork and more time conducting enforcement activities.

The device looks more like the Brick Mobile phone from the eighties, but could raise millions in fines for TfL.

Cutting edge??  
There is no qwerty keypad on the device which has a pad of ABC type buttons, making the entry on details painfully slow.

We watched in disbelief as compliance officers did badge and bill checks, entering data into the devices. The quickest check of the ones we put on the clock was 6.5 minutes.

Interim general manager for LTPH Helen Chapman told one driver, it would be a great idea for checks to be carried out with a passenger on board. She stated customers would be reassured that the Taxi they were in was a genuine Licensed vehicle.

In our opinion, most people already believe the Taxi they are getting into is genuine, sitting through checks such as this will only instil doubt in their minds

Can you imagine the frustration of a passenger who has had to wait in a queue, due to the fact compliance are checking Taxi details, then have to sit there watching the clock tick up while a CO is dithering, entering details with one finger into a hand held device. Yes I can see the passengers really loving this experience.

TfLTPH, New Powers:
A few years back legislation was put in place to enable TfL to issue fixed penalty fines to Taxi drivers for new offences such as failing to wear a badge, not displaying IDs, over ranking or forming unauthorised ranks. Attached to the handheld device is a printer, the sole purpose of which is to issue fixed penalty tickets and stop notes to drivers.

But TfLTPH intend to punished Taxi drivers even further. 
We have been informed that if a licensed Taxi driver receives more than two or more of these new fixed penalties within a prescribe three year period, they could be called up for further action to be taken.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Male cyclist in his 60s dies in crash with lorry at Camberwell Road


Another cyclist was killed on London’s roads today, the sixth to die in the past 13 days.

The man, who was in his early 60s, was killed in a collision with a lorry on Camberwell Road just after midday.

The victim was treated in the street for serious injuries by paramedics and a doctor from the air ambulance service.

A spokeswoman from the London Ambulance Service said the cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene “despite extensive efforts” to revive him.

One witness, Nettie Williams, tweeted: “Terrible accident on Camberwell Road SE5. Seems to have involved a cyclist and a bin lorry. Person being removed from under the lorry. It was a collision on a corner at some lights near Burgess Park. I saw from a bus.”

The victim was the 14th cyclist to die in London so far this year. The tally now equals the total for last year.

Cyclist death: the lorry at the junction Picture: John DunneThe accident took place at the junction of Camberwell Road and Albany Road at 12.05pm.

Police said the driver of the truck, a tipper bin lorry, stopped at the scene and was not arrested.

The cyclist’s next of kin have not yet been informed.

A Met spokesman said: “Officers attended and found a male cyclist, believed to be aged in his early 60s, suffering serious injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 12.37pm. 

“Detectives from the Road Death Investigation Unit have been informed. Inquiries continue.”

The road was closed while inquiries were being carried out.

The recent spate of cyclist deaths began on November 5 when hospital porter Brian Holt, 62, died on Mile End Road in east London as he cycled along Cycle Superhighway 2.

Three days later architect Francis Golding, 69, died after a crash with a coach in Holborn, central London on November 5.

The following Tuesday, November 12, Roger de Klerk, 43, died after he was crushed by a single-decker bus outside East Croydon station. The next day Venera Minakhmetova, a Russian IT entrepreneur, died after being hit by a lorry at the Bow roundabout on Cycle Superhighway 2 at rush hour.

Later a 21-year-old man from St John's Wood was hit by a bus at 11.30pm in Aldgate, near Cycle Superhighway 2. He died the following morning.

Source Standard online

Just hours after a cyclist was killed, another has been involved in a crash with a lorry in Camden

Road charity Brake in call to ban car hands-free phones

Use of hands-free phones should be banned from vehicles as well as hand-held ones, road safety campaigners say.

The charity Brake also called for the penalty for calling or texting behind the wheel to be increased from £100 to somewhere between £500 and £1,000.

Brake said a Freedom of Information request showed more than 500,000 people had points on their licence for using a phone or being otherwise distracted.

The government said it was not looking at banning hands-free kits.

Driving ability
The figures were released to mark the start of National Road Safety Week.

Brake's campaign is being supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers, 10 years after the motoring mobile phone ban was introduced.


The road safety charity wants drivers to turn off their phones, and callers to refuse to speak to someone who is on the road.

Brake pointed to research that suggested 98% of motorists were unable to divide their time without it affecting their driving ability.

Using a mobile phone, eating, drinking and smoking were all shown to increase the risk of a crash, Brake claimed.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: "We're living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm.

"More and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute.

"While there are enormous benefits to this new technology, it's also posing dangerous temptations to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting our most vulnerable road users in danger.

"Many people who wouldn't dream of drink-driving are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be similar and the consequences just as horrific."

'Top priority'
Imogen Cauthery, 26, was hit by a driver who was texting on his mobile phone, as well as speeding, when she was nine. She was in a coma for 10 days, and suffers seizures and memory loss.

She says she regularly sees people using their phones while driving.


"I just hate it, I get a really angry feeling, thinking what are you doing? You're ready to ruin another life or kill someone. I was very nearly killed. I want my first life back. My first life without all my problems and I can't get that back," she said.

Peter Rodger from the Institute of Advanced Motorists said a ban would be very difficult for the police to enforce and that a cultural change, which made it morally unacceptable to talk while driving, would be more effective.

"We tend to behave in the way everyone around us expects us to and if we can create an environment in which people don't expect that to happen, that is more likely to control how us, as individuals, actually behave," he said.

The government said it had increased fines for using a phone while driving and was looking at how to improve road safety for younger motorists.

The Department for Transport said road safety was a "top priority".

A spokesman said: "The government is determined that police have the powers they need to tackle any form of dangerous driving, including anyone using a mobile phone at the wheel.

"That is why this year the fixed penalty for this offence was increased to £100 and carries three penalty points.

"Police can stop and arrest any driver if they believe they are not in charge of their vehicle, and this includes if the driver is using a hands-free mobile device.

"There are no plans to change the law around the use of hands-free devices but all penalties are kept under review to ensure they are appropriate."

A man was today fighting for life in hospital after being dragged 100 yards by a car he mistook for a minicab.

Witnesses today described how the 27-year-old victim was left with serious head injuries after losing his grip when the black Vauxhall Zafira sped off along Essex Road, in Islington.

He was seen leaning through the car’s passenger-side front window in the early hours yesterday to try and negotiate a fare with the driver after mistaking it for a mini cab, sources told the Standard.

But he was left clinging on after the vehicle sped off, suffering a life-threatening head injury after losing his grip and crashing to the ground. He was rushed by ambulance to an east London hospital where he is critical. Police today confirmed the vehicle was not a cab.

Denise Read, 53, who works at a nearby minicab firm, said: "One of our drivers said the man’s face was in a very bad way."

A 57-year-old male motorist was arrested on suspicion of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene. He has been bailed until January.

The clash took place near the Ockendon Road junction at about 2am yesterday.

Toyris Miah, 23, whose home overlooks the scene outside Essex Road Kebab, said: “I heard shouting but didn’t think anything of it because this is a busy road.

“But then I looked out of the window a bit later because I saw blue flashing lights and there was about 12 medical staff and they had the whole road blocked off.

“I’ve never seen that many medics attend to one person which is why I knew it was serious. It looked pretty horrible.

“You could see that he was completely unconscious and wasn’t moving. They had him on a stretcher and there were all sorts of tubes going inside him with a blood bag going into him and an aid to help him breathe."

Ali Findir, 37, described seeing paramedics frantically trying to pump the victim’s chest after rushing out of the kebab shop where he works.

He said: “I didn’t see the incident but I saw the ambulance and the blue lights when I came out and could just see this guy in the road and they were pumping his chest trying to resuscitate him for quite a long time.”

Other witnesses told how debris which looked like “smashed plastic” could be seen lying in the road while residents were stopped from returning home for up to an hour.

A cordon remained until about 7am. Call police on 020 8842 1817 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Source Standard online.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Over the Weekend, Swallow Street Bus Lane Kept Clear By NSL TrafficWardens. By Jim Thomas

Friday night, one of the three minicab controllers, the one who normally stands in Regent Street and try's to tout passers by, kick off alarming as Wardens from both NSL and Westminster Parking Marshals kept the bus lane outside Swallow Street Arch clear. 

The Clipboard Johnny (although the clipboard has now been replaced with a small diary) became very animated towards the Wardens and also towards Taxi drivers picking up passenger outside the Swallow Street Arch. Foul language was abundant and at one time, the self appointed minicab booking marshal was chased off, after spitting at "the wrong cabby".

How are these animals allowed to carry on like this?

We have been told by the Met police, that serious sexual assaults including rape occuring on journeys originating in this manner, are now completely out of control and currently running at 25 a week. The problem being so bad, TfL no longer publish these figures.

LTPH have informed Westminster/NSL, that they carry out regular compliance and enforcement operations at this site
Yet no enforcement has been seen to be done, no statistics of enforcement appertaining to this site have been published and not one NSL traffic warden, Westminster City Marshal or Taxi driver has come forward to back up LTPH's claim. 

TfL have even removed the bus lane observation CCTV camera from the junction of Vigo and Regent.

Apparently, after a freedom of information request, TfLTPH said they only ever received one complaint regarding illegal parking in this bus lane, and yet virtually every one of TfL's buses have forward facing cameras being observer on a 24/7 basis by CentreComs operators. Yet not one TfL bus driver, or CentreCom observer has made a complaint.

'We have our cameras EVERYWHERE, there aren't too many places not only a bus but an individual can hide within London that we can no longer see'

Michael Josephs 
TfL Centrecomm operations manager.

In the same period, over 15 complaints have been made regarding Taxi drivers over ranking at Paddington Station. 
Smells a bit bet it does.

The touts are now taking desperate measures by parking on the opposite side of regent street and causing congestion in the southbound bus lane. The wardens have been told to enforce the northbound bus lane and so don't cross over. The more persistent touts are even parking on the licensed Taxi rank in Vigo Street, and walking customers around the corner.

Questions that need answers 
Why have 3 satellite office licences been issued in such close proximity?
Surely this problem should have been picked up on site inspection and licence variations refused?

Why have LTPH let this problem fester for so long?

We've still had no satisfactory answer from TfL as to how a company was issued satellite office licences just days after registering as a new company.
Why has the UTG said nothing about this?

Don't let them win.
If you are close, please put on the rank, the work is a constant steam.
Every job you take is one less In a scab.