Home
Green London Assembly Member is a fan of Lodon's iconic black cabs - but not some of their drivers

A video has emerged of an outburst last week by Boris Johnson, aimed at a black cabbie who swore at him. Boris swore back, and that’s the story, not that a licenced cabbie was abusive on a street.

Unusually, I have sympathy for Boris on this. He works hard, albeit not at the jobs he should be doing, and he is presumably under a lot of stress.

I also have sympathy for cabbies. It’s true that black cabbies have been treated badly over Uber being allowed in London and there has been insufficient police and Transport for London action to stop illegal minicabs which hit the black cab trade’s profits as well as make life more dangerous for us all, but as someone who also gets shouted at by cabbies, I’m fed up.

I’d better say straight away that I love black cabs. I use them about once a month to get home from a late evening event and feel completely safe once inside. (I’ve even got into trouble for using black cabs too often in the Evening Standard).

So when I say something negative about cabbies, it is balanced by my belief in their value and professionalism.

However, there is little reciprocation.

The frequent accusation when I’m on my bike is that ‘you cyclists’ don’t obey the law/cycle dangerously/cycle on the pavement.

Of course that’s true of some stupid selfish cyclists. But I stop patiently at red lights. And whereas once I was often left waiting alone, now I’m often in the midst of a peloton of well mannered legal cyclists.

The Met’s Operation Safeway has probably had an impact on the way most people cycle and I welcome the change.

By contrast, just in the last two weeks, I’ve seen two black cabbies red light jump, one pull into and through an advance stop line when the light was already red, and one who deliberately pulled out from the kerb in front of me when I was cycling in a cycle lane.

Not to mention other infringements.

I’ve started to take licence numbers so I can name and shame on Twitter.

I’m left wondering if the old fashioned pride that cabbies once quite rightly took in their jobs has turned into an arrogance about their being the only people on the roads who really understand conditions?

If that’s so, then Transport for London and the Met have a serious job of education to do.

40 comments

Avatar
bikebot [2119 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Something I found very curious this week, was how many people on the Daily Mail website laid into the taxi driver in the silly Boris Johnson spat. Viewed as a product, the black cab seems to be losing popular support across a broad range of demographics. Even Steve McNamara is now bleeting on about PR and winning over the public.

Not behaving like complete dicks towards the public whilst they're not a passenger would be a good place to start.

Avatar
squired [22 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

The thing that annoys me most about black cabs is that there are simply too many of them. I can step out of my office at lunchtime and pretty much guarantee that half off the vehicles waiting at any set of lights will be black cabs? Do we really need so many of them? Personally I would halve the number and I can imagine it would have a huge positive impact on congestion in central London, as well as improving revenues for those that remain.

As for using black cabs - never. I'd rather walk or use public transport. They cost more per mile than any other form of transport I can think of.

Avatar
Joeinpoole [444 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Quote "I also have sympathy for cabbies. It’s true that black cabbies have been treated badly over Uber being allowed in London"

I don't. I've worked as a cabbie and the fares charged by London black cabs are frankly ridiculous. The drivers must earn an absolute fortune.

Uber represents a change in technology and offers more choice, a better service and cheaper fares to customers.

A few years ago (2006) I was stuck at Heathrow for 8 hours due to a cock-up with the coach service. Keen to get home I asked several drivers in the black cab queue how much to drive me back to Poole. Most of them wanted £300 although one or two were grudgingly prepared to do it for £200. (NB: from Poole the going rate for Heathrow at the time was £75). The return journey of 180 miles would have taken no more than 3 hours and they'd have used about £20 of fuel. Greedy bastards. I have no sympathy whatsoever with them.

Avatar
muppetteer [95 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Commuting daily in London, I have regular interactions with Black cabs.

I've been hit by three now from behind whilst waiting at a red lights where they've just driven into the back of me on purpose. Two times they've been aggressive with abuse about why am I on the road, not paying road tax and in the primary position.

I had countless punishment passes, almost a daily occurrence, even if there's an open lane next to them. I get abuse shouted at me for no apparent reason, and the majority it appears feel their indicator are optional not mandatory.

Overall, they're pretty poor drivers. They should have their monopoly revoked immediately.

Avatar
Jasper [10 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Can't we all just get along.

Avatar
sm [405 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

The roads have changed but not the drivers on them.

Cabbies pull over for a fare without indicating or using mirrors. They see not the cyclist.

Cabbies uturn as if they own the road. It is their entitlement to make a dangerous move.

Cabbies stop wherever they want, even if dangerous to other road users. Gone is the time they'd tell the fare to walk on or cross the road.

Drivers have had the roads to themselves for far too long. Hence the anger now they have to share them and the perception that others don't belong on the road.

Previously their breaking of the law went unpunished. Now it puts others in danger. Speeding. Going through red lights
Parking where they like. Not focusing on the road. Sheesh. Wow. Anyhow, you get the picture. And yes I'm a driver. And yes the above is a small but sizable minority.

The times are a changin'

Avatar
lolol [214 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

A day doesn't go past that I don't see a cab go through a red light "a bit late", U-turn somewhere ridiculous, or cut across all and sundry with no signals to get to a fare, I ride 15 minutes each way. Uber your f-ing arse.

Avatar
Alb [152 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I think a lot of people are voting with their wallet (i.e. Uber). Black cab fares in London are a joke and generally only for the rich, corporate account or tourists. Competition in healthy and Uber is a brilliant concept that makes black cabs look archaic.

Avatar
racyrich [300 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

All the above. I've never met a group that felt so entitled. I don't cycle in London, merely commute by train and walk 10 minutes from Fenchurch St. Plus lunchtime outings.
Even in that minute interaction they excel in their lawlessness. They routinely jump the lights at the junctions I walk through. I see no end of horrific manouevres.
Only 2 days ago I called out one through his open window, blatantly driving along texting, trying to hide his phone down by his knee, but so obvious. Yes, Mr grey Metrocab driver, you.
I thought I was gonna have a set to with one last year outside the station. Road semi-blocked by a parked lorry outside a building site, the site banksman told him to drive up the pavement! Nice! As he drove into my leg, I shocked him by asking what he thought he was doing. 'He told me to'. That's fine then - any other laws you'll break on demand? Wah wah wah - obviously I was in the wrong, expecting to walk on the pavement unmolested by cars.
Wankers. Professional drivers! Pah. I have more driving qualifications than any of them. Professional navigators - yes. Professional arrogance - yes - a job requirement.

Avatar
Bill H [58 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

The number of Black taxis is artificially restricted to circa 28 thousand and those who commit to it earn in the region of £60k a year. No matter how well you know the Knowledge you will not pass until a licence is available.
As a kid in East London I looked up to cabbies but they should change the rules. There should be a standardised test and if you pass the grade you should get the badge. Taking it away from the Police in the 90's was a start that fizzled out.
Allow the market to decide how many licenced cabbies work not restrict it to 28,000.

Avatar
Evo Lucas [24 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Black cabs, where to begin? Basically they are the loonies of the taxi world, they’re almost a sort of Isis of London's cabs.

Its not just their driving its their views and their politics – if you are not with them then nothing is too bad for you.

https://youtu.be/DY4eS0j-TXY

Avatar
banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Boy am I glad I don't have to run the gauntlet with these murderous wankers!

My problem is bus drivers they have very similar attitudes, not all but a significant number. If infringement meant loosing your licence then I'm sure attitudes would change, and road safety would improve for everyone.

A driving licence should be a privilege NOT a right. Those who are working drivers, and expose other to more risk (simply because they are driving for longer periods of time than "ordinary drivers") should be required to maintain the highest standards.

A few weeks riding a bike through rush hour because their licence has been revoked would give them a new perspective of just how dangerous any motor vehicle is to other, perfectly entitled, users of public rights of way generally known as roads.

Avatar
bikebot [2119 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
banzicyclist2 wrote:

My problem is bus drivers they have very similar attitudes, not all but a significant number. If infringement meant loosing your licence then I'm sure attitudes would change, and road safety would improve for everyone.

I find buses a much smaller problem, in fact many I find great. I'll qualify that by saying I don't ride in zone 1&2 that much, just a few times a month and that is a whole different world.

I think the big difference is that with buses there is a complaints procedure that seems to be at least partly effective. I've used it, I was satisfied with the response. The driver awareness and training is clearly better than it was even five years ago.

With taxis, you can complain to the PCO if you want to waste your time, it'll go in the shredder. They don't take any notice unless you were a passenger. The regulatory system has no consideration for public safety except for the fare paying public, and it seems because of this driver behaviour is worse than ever.

The whole system needs reform, and in particular the Green Badge holders (central London taxis) need a licence that's based on training to share road space with other people rather than memorise an awful lot of street names, a skill increasingly deprecated by technology.

There's clearly not much wrong with the principle of a licensed and regulated taxi service. The implementation we have now is the problem.

Avatar
pamplemoose [34 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

The sooner London (and the rest of the UK) is served by a fleet of autonomous Uber cars the better in my opinion. Black cabs have had their time.

Avatar
gmac101 [181 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I've not had much time for black cabs since one driver doored a good friend of mine, and drove off leaving her on the road with a cut up face. She was on her way to a choir rehearsal and her injuries including a severed nerve in her cheek which meant should could never sing again. The complaint service is really more about passengers and defending the drivers.

Avatar
vonhelmet [844 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Joeinpoole wrote:

I don't. I've worked as a cabbie and the fares charged by London black cabs are frankly ridiculous. The drivers must earn an absolute fortune.

Not really. They have to work insane hours to make any real money, because they pay so much to the companies who own the taxis. That's where the money goes.

Avatar
smcc1879 [39 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Don't get me started.....  14http://youtu.be/_Tt9dzCMe1o

Avatar
webster [49 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Black cab drivers are their own worst enemy. How can they expect sympathy from the public when they behave like a gang of thugs given any opportunity to do so?
I understand their frustration at minicabs, who in my honest opinion should be massively culled to maybe only a thousand (from 52,000) with Addison Lee being eliminated entirely, but if they weren't so expensive then maybe more people would use them instead. There are far too many empty taxis and minicabs on the streets and they are the ones causing the congestion.

Avatar
skull-collector... [144 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Operation Safeway was bullcrap

Avatar
honesty [75 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Replace black cab with cyclist on pretty much all the comments above, and you get a situation we all get really wound up about, grouping all as a homogenous blob.

I'm sure there are bad cab drivers, as there are bad cyclists, but really are the percentage of taxi drivers that are bad that much that we feel the need to tar the whole lot. This is pretty much the same as saying all cyclists jump red lights.

I think one thing that would go a long way to stop issues is to require all cabs to be licenced, even uber. It's then a level playing field and the government can regulate all cabs better. Then reform the regulation, as it's pants.

Avatar
srchar [654 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I think one of the main issues is that the "training" revolves almost entirely around memorising common driving routes in London, an entirely pointless exercise given the maturity of sat nav technology, with live traffic updates and re-routing.

If those wasted years were spent on practical training about how to safely operate a vehicle on central London's crowded roads without harming other road users, we probably wouldn't be reading this blog post.

Avatar
bikebot [2119 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
honesty wrote:

I'm sure there are bad cab drivers, as there are bad cyclists, but really are the percentage of taxi drivers that are bad that much that we feel the need to tar the whole lot. This is pretty much the same as saying all cyclists jump red lights

We don't need to group the bad cab drivers together, they've already done it. It's called the LTDA. Have a read of some of their publications, it's an institution that seems proud to hate everyone else on the road.

And as for their attitude to their own bad apples. A key benefit of LTDA membership is access to legal services to avoid a ban in the event of receiving 12 points. That's provided regardless of the circumstance, in other words they openly defend dangerous drivers.

Avatar
davenportmb [75 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
bikebot wrote:

We don't need to group the bad cab drivers together, they've already done it. It's called the LTDA. Have a read of some of their publications, it's an institution that seems proud to hate everyone else on the road.

I've just been to their website and had a look through a past issue of the TAXI Newspaper. Jeeeeeeeeeesus...

Avatar
honesty [75 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Yeh, but they are pretty much the ADB of the taxi world, so it's to be expected.

Avatar
Ciaranthecab [1 post] 4 years ago
0 likes

Total vitriol from the majority of posters against cab drivers although, thankfully, some intelligent posts.

An awful lot of piousness and sactimony from a lot of people on this forum. Can you look yourselves in the eye and say that you always adhere to the rules of the road and that you never jeopardise yourselves, pedestrians, other road users?

There are a lot of cab drivers who behave like they own the road....there's a lot of cyclists who do as well. As a cab driver, I always try to drive considerately and safely and I always will. Hopefully, cyclists will do the same.

Avatar
PaulBox [674 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I used to use them a lot, but would rather walk or get a tube now. I have probably used one all year.

Avatar
ChairRDRF [362 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Jenny Jones is normally bang on about cycling and safety in London - and has done more for cyclists in London than just about any other elected London politician. (OK, she has chaired and spoken at our conferences and has supported Road Danger Reduction for years).

But I have to disagree about the effects of Operation Safeway.

I agree that during and immediately after enforcement exercises drivers will often behave better in the area of enforcement. But I'm not happy about where and how the policing is done and its overall effects. I wrote about this when OS started http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/11/29/is-there-a-police-blitz-on-unsafe-driving-... and I haven't seen anything since to change my mind about its failures.

Avatar
felixcat [486 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Ciaranthecab wrote:

An awful lot of piousness and sactimony from a lot of people on this forum. Can you look yourselves in the eye and say that you always adhere to the rules of the road and that you never jeopardise yourselves, pedestrians, other road users?

I try hard to adhere to road traffic law. I never RLJ, in car or on bike. I never speed. I try hard to never endanger others. The only way I endanger myself is by getting on my bike and sharing the road with drivers who routinely break the law and ignore the Highway Code.
That you cannot imagine anyone does their best to behave properly on the road is telling. I think you are extrapolating fromk your own behaviour.

Edit. I gave you a like by mistake.

Avatar
zanf [960 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
bikebot wrote:

We don't need to group the bad cab drivers together, they've already done it. It's called the LTDA.

LTDA represent less than 6000 of the far too many, mostly empty 24,000 cabbies currently licenced.

Ciaranthecab wrote:

An awful lot of piousness and sactimony from a lot of people on this forum. Can you look yourselves in the eye and say that you always adhere to the rules of the road and that you never jeopardise yourselves, pedestrians, other road users?

Stand on any junction in London and watch endless black cabs jump red lights. You can even go and watch that video of the cyclist who collided with the side of the bus, and what most didnt notice is that a black cab jumped the lights.

And the sooner that black cabs are forced to convert their vehicles away from diesel and stop polluting the environment with PM2.5, the better.

Avatar
felixcat [486 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Ciaranthecab wrote:

As a cab driver, I always try to drive considerately and safely and I always will. Hopefully, cyclists will do the same.

Well, I think that I can promise you that no cyclist will kill a cab driver. It would be good if you could promise the same.

Pages