A recent article which was posted on-line by CityLab.com, presented an argument that as non-residents, Taxi drivers were stirring up trouble for residents in The borough of Tower Hamlets, who are advocates of the scheme.... This is not true.
But then, City Lab was never going to publish the most relevant part of the taxi drivers response when asked to comment.
The nucleus of the argument is between residents who are forced to suffer the impact of rerouted traffic (Hackney Wick is undergoing heavy redevelopment) and an organised cycling lobby who do not live in the area.
Below, is the response in full, which Laura had six weeks prior to publishing the article.
Thanks for reaching out
Your email to Andy Scott was referred to me to offer comment on the Tredegar Road protest
I can confirm that a total of three taxi drivers did attend the Tredegar Road protest at the behest of residents who wished to highlight that the consultation was flawed. Another cab driver requested access through the bus gate as he was driving an electric taxi, and is quite rightly playing his part in improving London’s air quality.
The police did attend, as is customary at any protest, but left within fifteen minutes. As I understand it, there were no concerns that the protest would turn hostile. The police have no doubt confirmed this with you? If you have attended, or experienced, any of the protests that are called by the ITA you will know that they are the most peaceful demonstrations held in the capital.
Ninety-nine percent of the protesters were residents of Tower Hamlets who do not consider the road to be rat run but a major access point to the A12. The problem here is that the traffic order is only implemented on certain local roads and does not consider the detrimental impact that displaced traffic will have the Mile End Road (for example)
Considering that Hackney Wick is undergoing enormous redevelopment, why weren’t businesses and residents in that area directly consulted?
By comparison, residents of localised roads are significantly more affluent than residents living on main thoroughfares and the main factor for early death is poverty - it kills far more people than emissions. By contrast, Kensington & Chelsea have the second longest life expectancy in the country but have some of the heaviest urban traffic flows.
Is the Mile End Road - which houses some of the least affluent residents - expected to endure the bulk of re-routed traffic? Tower Hamlets have given no consideration to this? Why? This is not the opinion of the ITA, but the opinion of residents who attended the protest.
Taxis provide the public with the only demand responsive door-to-door service in London. Taxicard alone enables over 80,000 members in 32 participating boroughs to take around 1.3million trips per year.
The Taxicard scheme offers London residents with mobility impairments or who are sight impaired subsidised travel. The scheme enables members who may have difficulty using public transport, such as buses, trains and tubes, to get out and about and enjoy the city. It is a matter of personal liberty and accessibility. The scheme is for all journey types, including social trips such as shopping, visiting friends and family or going out to events.
If licensed taxis are prevented from using the bus gate on Tredegar Rd, what provision has the local authority put in place to ensure those with mobility issues are not forced onto costly, time inefficient routes? Mobility is a concern for the elderly, frail, wheelchair-dependent, sight impaired, anxious, and those carrying heavy luggage or shopping.
The ITA does not have an argument with cyclists, and the data shows that both cyclists and licensed taxi drivers share a very safe relationship. The cabbie is fully conversant with the layout of London’s infrastructure which enables him or her keep their full attention on the road ahead without being distracted by various GPS systems.
The cab fleet is rapidly moving towards electric with nearly three thousand in operation in the space of just eighteen months (unlike buses that are allowed to run on diesel until 2030). All new taxis have to be zero emission capable. The trade agrees that we need to plan for the future and reduce - on a global basis - our human detritus but creating unnecessary barriers for taxi drivers which could economically disadvantage them is hardly an incentive for the driver to invest in a more sustainable vehicle. It’s also worth remembering, that taxis have always conformed to the EU Emissions Strategy, and are stringently tested twice a year to ensure they uphold rigorous standards.
Permitting taxis to access the bus gate is not about prioritising the driver but allowing those who have chosen not to use their car (or better still, not to own one) to access transport that delivers an efficient, accessible, door-to-door service. In 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled that the practice of permitting, in order to establish a safe and efficient transport system, Black Cabs to use bus lanes on public roads during the hours when traffic restrictions relating to those lanes were operational.
Black Cabs are subject to the rule of ‘compellability’, which requires that where a taxi has agreed to pick up a customer at a taxi rank or in the street, the taxi must take the passenger where he or she wishes to go [Act of 1831 ss. 35-36; Act of 1853 ss. 7/17; Act of 1968 s. s3; Order of 1934 art. 34]: it cannot therefore be at the discretion of the driver to determine if a passenger has a mobility issue or not.
The ITA argues that creating binaries for those with mobility issues is diametrically opposed to the Dept. of Transport’s ‘inclusive’ policy and is a retrograde step that seeks to restrict legitimate freedom of choice from residents.
With the crime rate in Tower Hamlets being at an all time high, no one - especially the most vulnerable in society - should be denied a door-to-door service in what is factually the safest transport option in the capital.
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
Click link below to read the hatchet job from City Lab, in their article “Lessons From a Car-Free Street Fight in London”, about the role played by the ITA in the Tredegar Road and Coborn Road trial protests.