Wednesday 15 January 2014

Cambridge Cabbies: Cyclists? You don't exist.

Cambridge taxi drivers get a bad rep sometimes, as they do in most cities I think. Its to be expected, I mean, think about it - they're on the streets all the time, trying to get enough trade such that they don't have to work every single hour of the day. They'll cut corners, they'll go too quick, they'll do whatever they need to in the hope of getting home to their families a few minutes earlier with enough money to pay the bills.

And they're doing this on the roads - controlling powerful machines at high speed among other people acting just as daft. So they get angry, they get annoyed, and both individually and collectively they can end up getting a rotten reputation.

So Cambridge taxi drivers have come up with a plan. Its not a bad plan either  they're going to have a code of practice to convince us they are not 'greedy, lying thugs'. They're going to have a code of conduct - and its going to to be all sweetness and light with them being 'professional' and 'courteous to my fellow drivers'a lot of other stuff. Okay...

Trouble isn't whats in the code, its whats not. It transpires that about half of Cambridges population cycle sometimes - and something in the region of a fifth of trips are by bike. So where's the bullet point about overtaking cylists such that if the cyclist falls off the taxi driver wouldn't run him or her over? Or the one saying you won't block cycle lanes? Perhaps you might have a statement that you will not over-run ALS's or that you'll not break the speed limit? No? 

In fact in the city that has the highest proportion of cyclists in the entire country our taxi drivers have managed to come up with a code of conduct that conspicuously fails to mention us. And I promise you, its not like they don't talk about us - or, I should say, complain. Incessantly, boringly, and pointlessly.

So how have they avoided making any pledges to treat cyclists well, or with respect, or even obey the law where cycling facilities are concerned? Well there's only one possibility really.

There's nothing in it about cyclists because they don't really respect us enough to promise to treat us well. Its really that simple - there are no pledges to treat cyclists well because there is no intention to do so. This is an intentional snub, there will be no charter badge that requires treating cyclists well because there is no desire to treat us well. 

Hostilities as normal from Cambridge taxi drivers then. Or... I dunno. Go on Cambridge Cabbies, prove me wrong. Change the charter - change 'fellow motorists' to 'fellow road users'. Promise to respect cyclists like you've promised to respect motorists. Will you do that for us, or do you genuinely, collectively have no respect for us?


  1. Well, as you point out, half their passengers are probably cyclists. How much of their income is actually derived from people who are taking a cab because they don't own a car due to cycling most places?

    Are there any legal grounds for refusing to pay a taxi driver if they drive carelessly around cyclists?

    I suppose you can tell them to stop early on the basis of driving behaviour, but that leaves you stranded and them free to pick up another fare earlier.

    1. Good question. All I've done in the past has been really precise with the fare - and not tip - in response to bad driving. Can't immediately think of anything much else to do.

  2. I live in S.Ives and happened to have a bad experience with a Cambridge Cabbie on his way home, we both left the Rainbow supermarket(St.Ives) at the same time, then met again on Waveney Road, just before he turned into his road, his driving got him seconds ahead of me, I have his address. There wasn't room to overtake me safely, I was overtaking parked cars, so he overtook me in a very short parking bay, off the road and misjudged the overtake/couldn't care and cut in. He reckoned I was in the middle of the road, blah, blah.
    I did google his number and found he'd stuck his fingers up to a cyclist in Cambridge who'd questioned his parking/blocking the cycle lane while he read his newspaper.
    Does the Cambridge licensing office take complaints seriously? I've lost faith in anyone addressing this behaviour, sadly.
    Maybe they should have a star rating in their window like restaurants, how many complaints upheld, how many 'their fault' accidents and you can choose if you want to take a ride with a questionable skilled cabbie, much like you can risk food poisoning or similar, if you think it's worth the risk.

  3. If passengers are travelling through their own cycles then what should cabbies earn. How they manage their families. It is too difficult for them in the future to drive safely on the road without any greed and anger.

    1. You understand that if I wasn't on my bike, I still wouldn't be your customer? I'd be walking, or I'd be on the bus, but I wouldn't likely be in a taxi. Me being on a bike has got nothing to do with whether you get a fare.

      If you can't drive without anger, don't drive. Part of the terms and conditions of driving on the road is that you treat others well - you can't possibly excuse driving dangerously on this or any other grounds.

    2. Taxi drivers will be out of a job within 20-30 years time thanks to technology like the Google Car. I wouldn't get all Luddite about it, plan for your future instead.

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