Category Archives: A window on My World

Best Before Cabs

When John Major, that grey man of politics, brought in the Food Labelling Regulations 1996, which compelled manufacturers to place an ‘appropriate durability indication’ on items, he unleashed a tide of bureaucracy. How can Deep Heat embrocation, candles and salt, that great preserver need a use by date? Now we have just have the Copenhagen summit where Climate Change Junkies have said we have just 40 days to save the planet.

[D]id some cavers go into an unknown void and find the inscription: ‘Manufactured 4.54 billion years ago; Best before soon after the end of Pleistocene Period’?

Now Mayor Boris Johnston has waded (if that is the correct term with the melting icecaps) into the debate. In an ‘inverted pyramid of piffle’, he has commissioned a consultation document on how long should a London black cab remain licensed.

According to Boris, all cabs should have a finite life of 10 years. Never mind that some of the newer vehicles have very low CO2 emissions and that building a new cab produces far more damage to the environment than merely patching up the old droshky.

In a separate but not unrelated dictat those Bumbling Bureaucrats of Brussels intend to foist the working time directive on self employed cabbies.

The Directive provides a definition of the types of activities that should be included in the calculation of working time. These are: driving; loading and unloading; assisting passengers boarding and disembarking from the vehicle; cleaning and technical maintenance; and all other work intended to ensure the safety of the vehicle. It also covers the times during which a worker cannot dispose freely of their time and are required to be at their workstation. The Directive also regulates maximum weekly working time, breaks, rest periods and night work which at present amount to a total of 48 hours a week.

So there you have it, assuming I work 48 weeks a year the maximum life of my vehicle will be just 960 days, some of that time will be sitting on a rank, maintaining the vehicle and other sundry chores and the rest driving at the London average speed of 12mph.

Sorry can’t say that it must be expressed in kilometres, whatever that is.

Going Japanese

Five million quid doesn’t go very for these days it would seem. When they saw Westminster Council approaching them and asking the question, “Can you change our crossing to . . . a crossing?” the contractors must have rubbed their hands with glee.

Now after 8 weeks of work, enough concrete to build the Hoover Dam and gridlock on all the approaching roads, the Shibuya crossing at Oxford Circus is complete.

[I] am considering turning CabbieBlog into a conspiracy theory site, if I didn’t know better you could be forgiven for suspecting some of the road ‘improvements’ taking place in London are designed to hold up traffic. You don’t have to possess a degree in traffic management to realise that if you cut a road’s capacity in half it’s going to take twice as long to pass a given point.

The newly completed Shilba crossing at Oxford Circus that CabbieBlog has commented on in the past is a £5 million mad scheme on a gargantuan scale and rivals Trafalgar Square as the worst traffic scheme ever imposed on London?

After removing the protective railings, the kerbs and filling the underground toilet with concrete, the pavements have been widened, not with smart paving slabs in keeping with this allegedly prestigious shopping area, no they have just been filled that space with concrete.

This now benefits the drug dealers, leaflet distributors and disorientated tourists who were always the biggest annoyances at what was and is still the worst intersection in London.

Now that other band who inhabit this quarter of London, the hordes of pubescent girls scrambling to get into Top Shop. Inevitably gaggles of them would meet ‘by the railings’, where they would stand for 20 minutes, texting each other while flicking their hair and adjusting their micro skirts, these little darlings are now spilling into a road which is devoid of either railings or kerb.

But apart from these vacuous creatures, who is going to shop in Oxford Street this Christmas next to a stationery line of traffic stretching for one mile, all pumping out CO2 because they can’t go anywhere?

Say No to NoHo

My dream of immortality has been dashed, CabbieBlog’s birthplace has been demolished and the old Middlesex Hospital site is being redeveloped.

In a re-branding exercise unmatched since Datsun decided to pick Cherry as their new car’s name (either you were driving a small red fruit or making a statement on your virginity), there’re calling the development NoHo.

[S]ituated a quarter of a mile north from Soho the title presumably comes from being ‘Not Soho’. Soho derives its name from the cry given by hunters in the forest originally situated there, when their quarry had been spotted. Similar to today’s cry of Tally Ho!

So NoHo must have the opposite connotation ‘no quarry spotted’, presumably for disappointed property hunters.

The residents in the area are enraged at this blatant attempt to rename this area known as Fitzrovia.

The old hospital has now been demolished, except for a range of buildings on Nassau Street. Now the development is currently on hold after Candy and Candy, the interior developers, left the development, leaving the site in the hands of the Kaupthing Bank.

In its place a perimeter hoarding in black has been erected, giving both colour and texture to this otherwise featureless area, a marked improvement to the elegant Edwardian building that it now replaces.

Walking past the site, I noticed recently a further twist to the areas’ gentrification, the name NoHo has been removed from the sleek black hoardings. But at least the black looks cool.

Mayflies in Lycra

Mayfly Mayflies have a short and glorious life, and so do many cyclists in London.

The Metropolitan Police’s Collision Investigators have said that there have been 9 cyclists killed in London so far this year, of which 7 have been killed by lorries and at least 6 of these fatalities were female. So why do they want to balance on two wheels while avoiding potholes, pedestrians and cars?

Many of these lunatics habitually ignore traffic regulations, to the annoyance of other road users, and who at The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea had the inspired idea to encourage them to ride up a one-way street in the opposite direction to the traffic?

Was it another Boris Brainwave closing half of central London’s roads recently to allow two men and a dog the experience of a car free Capital, with Sunday’s Skyride.

[H]e also treats us to the colourful spectacle of hundreds of bikes accompanied by a police escort reclaiming the streets on the last Friday of the month with the Critical Mass festival.

Boris is so keen on his pedal pals maybe he should consider replacing the hated bendy buses with rickshaws; he is making no headway to curb this menace.

It was H.G. Wells who said: “When I see a man on a bicycle I don’t despair for the human race”. But then he did write War of the Worlds.

In Memoriam

At the risk of unleashing a river of vitriol I want to address roadside memorials. As drivers we are told that nothing should distract our attention, so no mobiles, loud music, or if the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has their way, no smoking. In the past Eva Herzigova’s advert for Wonderbra caused a string of accidents caused by male drivers being distracted by her female charms displayed on very large hoardings around London.

[T]he appearance of these shrines in England is all the more surprising since the tradition is alien to Protestant cultures. They are contrastingly common in Spain, parts of Austria and much of South America. But I’m getting fed up with seeing these mounds of flowers, soft toys or football shirts placed at the side of the road in this country .

Understandably relations and loved ones of the deceased will get some solace and closure from these shrines, but they are messy and distracting. You crane your neck to try to find out who the victim might be and if there are toys around the base you lose your concentration momentarily.

And what’s the point? Surely you pay your respects at the resting place of your loved one not a lamppost beside the A40. Councils will now remove any homemade signs attached to street signs, so why do they let this clutter remain at the roadside?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents believes there are important safety messages to be drawn from the trend. “The increase in the number of shrines just highlights how dangerous our roads are,” said a spokeswoman.

But the Society is concerned that the shrines may themselves increase the risk of accidents. “It isn’t something we would like people to stop doing but it’s important they take extra care. The same applies to motorists because it’s easy for them to take their eyes off the road for even a second.”

White Bike-4 The ghost bike memorials by Steve Allen work by just reminding drivers of the need to ‘think bike’. Usually these comprise of a white bike and the victim’s name.

How about a small plaque in a distinctive colour placed where people have died this could serve the dual purpose of a modest memorial and with its distinctive colour a reminder to motorists?