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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Demonstrators target Addison Lee Offices

Demonstrators hold a "die in" outside Addison Lee headquarters
Demonstrators yesterday evening targeted the headquarters of the mini cab firm Addison Lee following comments from Chairman John Griffin. The Conservative party donor caused outrage among the cyclist community when he said 'These cyclists are throwing themselves on to some of the most congested spaces in the world. They leap on to a vehicle which offers them no protection except a padded plastic hat. 

"Should a motorist fail to observe a granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or rain drain, then he is guilty of failing to anticipate that this was somebody on her maiden voyage into the abyss. 'The fact is he just didn't see her and however cautious, caring or alert he is, the influx of beginner cyclists is going to lead to an overall increase in accidents involving cyclists. Mr Griffin added it was time for riders to 'get trained and pay up'; a reference to the training other road users undertake and the amount of money motorists pay in tax and insurance.

A spokesman for the London Cycling Campaign said the tone of the taxi boss's article suggested he believed 'vulnerable people like cyclists don't deserve to be on our roads; and if cyclists get hurt it's their own fault'. The campaign group also claimed Mr Griffin was 'prepared to deliberately infest his whole company with anti-cyclist sentiment, putting the lives of Londoners at greater risk'.

Green Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones said: “These remarks demonstrate a shocking disregard for the lives and safety of London’s growing number of cyclists and road users in general. To suggest that the victims of road traffic incidents only have themselves to blame is horrifically offensive to the families of those who have lost their lives or been injured on London’s roads. By electing more Greens to the London Assembly in May, London can make sure our roads can accommodate all road users—including cyclists and pedestrians—rather than this obnoxious focus on the speed of cars. I will not again use an Addison Lee taxi and am happy to join those calling for a total boycott of their organisation.”

A spokesman for the demonstrators, Beth Anderson, said on Facebook page of ‘Addison Lee ‘Die in’’: “Tonight we want to take our message to Addison Lee; to ask John Griffin to immediately instruct his drivers to not use the bus lanes and publish an apology for his recent comments which only serve to inflame an incorrect and ignorant opinion of cyclists,”The uproar following the strong comments by Mr Philips has been followed by a softening of tone by him.

Mr Griffin admitted he thought the tone of his original argument was harsh. “I accept that the tone of the article was perhaps a little too inflammatory, it was meant to entertain and generate debate, but the online reaction has obscured the main message that there are many inexperienced cyclists that need better training to be safe on London’s busy roads,” he said.

Meanwhile, Transport for London took to court its battle to stop Mr Griffin from paying fines for Addison Lee drivers who drive in bus lanes in London.