The head of London's largest minicab company says cyclists should think more about their own safety before "throwing themselves on to some of the most congested spaces in the world"
John Griffin, the founder and chairman of Addison Lee, blames the rising popularity of cycling for the increase in accidents and says cyclists should pay road tax.
The rest of us occupying this road space have had to undergo extensive training,” he said.“We are sitting in 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.
“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. It is time for us to say to cyclists: you want to join our gang, get trained and pay up.”
Mr Griffin also criticised campaigners who claim that cyclists are being “murdered” by motorists, saying they should take responsibility for their own safety.
“Should a motorist fail to observe a granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or a rain drain, then he is guilty of failing to anticipate that this was somebody on her maiden voyage into the abyss,” he said.
“The fact is that 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 has already courted controversy by telling his 3,500 Addison Lee drivers in London to ignore the threat of criminal prosecution for driving in bus lanes and to flout the ban, promising to reimburse them for any fines they incur.
Jenny Jones, the Green Party candidate for London mayor, joined a Twitter campaign to boycott Addison Lee taxis. Cyclists are planning a protest outside the company headquarters next week.
Sarah Fatica, of Brake, the road safety charity, said Mr Griffin was right in calling for cyclists to get more training, but said ultimately motorists had to be more careful because they were in charge of such dangerous vehicles. “If a cyclist makes a mistake it is usually the cyclists themselves who are worse off but if a motorist makes a mistake it can lead to a number of casualties,” she said.