London predictions

This year is CabbieBlog’s fifteenth year in the cyberverse and a lot has happened in the intervening years. Gone are fax machines, Nokia phones, VHS and many diesel cabs. So what will change in London this year?

Bike Lanes: These were the poster boy during the lockdown, with dozens created, seemingly without thought to their consequences. Euston Road has been modified so traffic may flow again, others will meet their demise this year.

Delivery bikes: There was a time when most of what we ate was prepared at home. Then came the sandwich shop and the ubiquitous coffee outlet. Businesses then persuaded us we would be better off staying at home with your friendly underpaid delivery boy dropping the stuff off at your house, as a consequence driving in London was a slalom dodging bikes. With a recession on the horizon don’t plan to work for Uber Eats as a job for life.

Paying your way: Contactless is only a decade old – it was an exciting novelty at the 2012 Olympics – passengers in my cab at the time invariably paid by cash, even though I had a card reader. Cabbies now are obliged to install an approved machine. With interest rates rising to 1970s levels expect the adage ‘Cash Is King’ to return.

The moral high ground: When walking along the Embankment have you noticed the benches are perched on a platform? Thought not. Some years ago, to compensate for rising sea levels, the river’s wall was heightened. As the weather conditions become ever more extreme prepare to have your environmental conscience judged. “Oh, you actually flew on holiday this year did you?” “You used a black cab?” It’s only going to get worse, and the wall is going to get higher.

Engineering The Word: You just know where online communication is going, it’s going visual. TikTok is the flavour of the month, forget WordPress, Blogger and Substack, who wants to plough through acres of prose when you can watch a pubescent teen doing something stupid? Grandad, nobody wants to read those 500 words that you’ve lovingly crafted, not any more. Expect more social media apps designed for watching cute kittens.

It’s tough at the top: Four Chancellors of the Exchequer; Three Prime Ministers; Two Met Commissioners; all in one city in one year. Blame who you like – energy companies, bonus-stuffed bankers or global retail companies not paying local taxes, our immediate future is financial depression. We can expect a year with less financial security, lower aspirations and reduced support from the State. There’ll be pressure to cut services which will be fine until some service you rely on is scaled back, made chargeable or deleted altogether. Due to the fallout expect more political chaos at the top.

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