20/04/2012 07:16 BST | Updated 20/04/2012 12:02 BST

Addison Lee Boss John Griffin Blames Cyclists For Road Accidents, Saying 'Get Trained And Pay Up'

Addison Lee boss John Griffin, chief of one of Britain's largest cab firms, has caused outrage again this week after claiming that cyclists injured on London roads are to blame for their own accidents.

The 69-year-old boss added that if Londoners want to cycle in the capital they should "get trained and pay up."

Griffin also accused cyclists of being irresponsible as they "leap onto a vehicle which offers them no protection except a padded plastic hat".

Cyclists outraged at Griffin's comments plan to stage a mass "die-in" outside Addison Lee offices on Monday. "Make up and fake blood welcome", the Facebook event states, accusing Griffin of focussing on "his own profit above the safety of cyclists and pedestrians."

The taxi boss compares cyclists’ safety with taxi drivers, who are "sitting inside a protected space with impact bars and air bags and paying extortionate amounts of taxes on our vehicle purchase, parking, servicing, insurance and road tax."

London cyclists have expressed disgust at Griffin’s "victim blaming" attitude, which was published in the AddLib magazine, handed out to Addison Lee customers and available in the 4,000 Addison Lee cabs that journey across London.

In an exclusive blog for the Huffington Post UK, Griffin says that he stands what he wrote.

"In the article [in AddLib], I argue for compulsory training and insurance for London's bicycle owners and I stand by my contention," Griffin said.

Griffin goes on to say that all Londoners have had to "take evasive action as these kinds of cyclists tear through red lights, without a thought for their, or anyone else's, safety".

In the blog, Griffin reveals that is a cyclist himself, a regular user of the 'Boris Bikes', and concludes by saying that "cycling is a deadly serious issue and lives are at stake."


A spokesperson for the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) described Griffin's accusations as "pathetic".

"I don’t think he's got a leg to stand on,” said Mike Cavenett of the LCC. “He doesn't seem to understand the law very well, or the Highway Code, or that many of his clients will also be cyclists. Cyclists aren't a separate breed.

"Road tax was abolished in the 1930's and there are some cars which pay zero tax because it's based on emissions."

Dr Robert Davis, Chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, described Griffin's accusations as a "display of self-pitying bigotry" to Bikebiz magazine. Davis has raised worries that Griffin’s words will actually increase cycling accidents on London roads.

Davis said: "This kind of incendiary message that exacerbates rule and law breaking behaviour by motorists.

"These myths are simply part of the inversion of reality presented by Addison Lee’s Chairman – a world where drivers are the victims of cyclists, rather than the other way round."

This is echoed by LCC who said: "It's pathetic, but the serious side of this is that it is likely to put cyclists at risk. Anti cyclist sentiment and leading motorists to believe that it's OK to drive badly around cyclists puts hundreds of thousands of people at risk."

Jenny Jones, the Green Mayoral candidate for London has condemned Addison Lee and pledged never to use the taxi firm again.

"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."

Cyclists hitting back at the cab firm have pointed to a number of forums that "single out" Addison Lee as the taxi firm with the worst reputation on the roads.

Griffin's description of a London cyclist as a "granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or a rain drain stereotype" has also provoked outrage, with twitter users calling it "sheer arrogance," and threatening to boycott Addison Lee.

However some have agreed with Griffin, thinking he "has a point" and describing cyclists as a "menace."

Griffin hit headlines earlier this week after a spat with Transport for London over bus lanes.

Although Tfl banned all cars except black cabs from driving in bus lanes, Griffin publicly encouraged his drivers to break the law, offering to indemnify his drivers against all costs incurred.

Tfl hit back saying that it would prosecute individual drivers, and is now seeking an injunction from the high court to withdraw the letter. However Griffin claims allowing black cabs to drive in bus lanes is discrimination.

The Guardian reports that he is using the picture of black cab rapist John Worboy, who was convicted of drugging 19 women and assaulting 12, including one rape, to show that Addison Lee cabs are safer, part of a continuing battle against the competition.

This picture is trending on Twitter, after people pledged to boycott the firm, and delete its phone app.