Seriously injured cyclist warns others – Don’t run a Red light

Craig Dortkamp, an ‘experienced’ cyclist, had never encountered any problems with other road users or suffered any accidents. Or so he says! But that all changed when Craig cycled through a red light in the City of London – suffering serious injuries as a result.

Reflecting on his experience, Craig said: “It’s so easy not to consider the consequences, but I don’t think I will ever go through a red light again.” On 17th May, Craig was cycling to work during rush hour traffic at about 8am.  As Craig approached the junction of Holborn Circus the traffic lights were showing red indicating for him to stop. He failed to stop at the red light and as a result found himself in the middle of a busy junction with cars travelling in all different directions. As he struggled to get out of the way of oncoming traffic he cycled into a taxi.

Craig, who was not wearing a helmet, crashed into the side of a taxi and his head went through the side window smashing the glass completely. He sustained a serious cut to his head which went down to the bone.  He required surgery and over 200 stitches. He also suffered smaller cuts to his face, two black eyes and bruising to his neck.

He hopes that by publicising his experience it will encourage other cyclists to stop, think and not to go through red traffic lights. Craig offered advice to other cyclists: “Be sensible, don’t take unnecessary risks, don’t run through a red light – you don’t know what is around the corner. I hope I don’t see any other cyclists running through a red light. If you don’t take that risk your chances of being hit by a vehicle are much slimmer and you probably won’t end up with scars on your face for the rest of your life like me.” 

Between April 2012 and March 2013 145 cyclists were injured in the City, 21 seriously. Cyclists caught going through a red light will be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice which carries a £30 fine.  Last year over 3,000 fines were given to cyclists for traffic offences in the Square Mile. Of these, nine out of 10 were issued to cyclists who went through a red light.

20mph limit to be implemented in the City of London

A 20mph limit is to be implemented across all roads in the City of London. The City of London’s full Court of Common Council has voted for an area wide 20mph limit to protect workers and visitors to the square mile. 20mph limits passed the Planning and Transportation Committee and Policy and Resources Committee in June after the City of London commissioned an air quality impact report from Imperial College. This showed no negative effects. Research also found that for the 1.6 mile widest City of London journey limits would only mean a maximum 25 seconds extra journey time. In July the Mayor’s Roads Task Force recommended that the all the central zone i.e. West End, The City and Southbank become 20mph across the whole area. A quarter of London boroughs now either have a total 20mph limits policy or are moving towards a 20mph speed limit, these include Islington, Camden, Southwark, Haringey, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Lambeth and now the City of London. Other boroughs are watching the City’s decision. More are expected to announce their own borough-wide 20mph limits soon.

This vote confirms the City’s move to borough-wide 20mph limits which will be highly cost effective. A relatively small investment in signage is predicted to reap road casualty savings of 9 per cent per year. Campaigners now hope it will send a message to the rest of the UK that a 20mph environment would encourage active travel and health, as well as providing better road safety. This vote sends a huge message to London and other global centres about the City’s aim to maintain its position in the top rank of global financial centres by prioritising road safety. Campaigners say that a 20mph limit creates an environment that encourages active travel and health through walking and cycling.

Jeremy Leach, ‘20’s Plenty for Us’ London Co-ordinator said: “A 20mph City of London says strongly that 20’s Plenty where people work. The City of London joins Paris and Tokyo in recognising that 20mph limits are better for business and health”. Rod King MBE ‘20’s Plenty for Us’ founder said: “The City of London has chosen wisely in civilising streets for people with 20mph limits. This highlights the need for our ‘It’s Time For 20’ call for a review of signage requirements to enable it to be far cheaper for local authorities to implement 20mph limits.” Time for 20 asks the Department for Transport to allow authorities to sign exceptions to 20mph limits which can halve the cost of implementing 20mph limits. Transport charity, ‘Sustrans’ London deputy director, Matt Winfield, said: ‘A 20mph limit is welcome wherever it is put in place across the country, but a postcode lottery where pedestrians and cyclists are safer in some areas than others is not acceptable – 20mph must become a national default speed limit.’
Author- TaxiCabNews



Football players forced to take Minicab to QPR

Brighton and Hove Albion players were forced to take a minicab to Loftus Road for their game with QPR after their coach broke down en route to West London. Goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak took to Facebook to share a picture of himself and teammates squeezed into a private hire vehicle as they travelled Queens Park Rangers. “On the way to the game, our coach broke down and we had to take a taxi to the stadium!” Kuszczak wrote.
“That doesn’t happen every day, but it didn’t affect our solid draw!”

Eros turned to Snow globe

Eros on Piccadilly Circus turned into a Snow Globe

By now you will have seen the snow globe that surrounds Eros on Piccadilly Circus. You may not have given it much thought, but it was quite a challenge to design and build. The City of Westminster Council approached Wildstone and Architen Landrell with the challenge. Eros has a long history of being a target for spirited personal attention in the lead up to New Year’s Eve. As a way to protect the aluminium sculpture and get everyone in the West End ready for Christmas, the idea was to have Eros in the centre of a larger than life Snow Globe. Architen Landrell was awarded the contract to design, manufacture, test, and install the ‘World’s Largest Snow Globe over Eros. ’ The Snow Globe will remain in place until 4 January. It will then be packed up and stored until it is reassembled again next year. With its prominent position, the octagon base of the Snow Globe houses eight of some of Europe’s highest resolution LED video screens. As a Snow Globe of this scale has never been attempted before, the designers installed it, minus Eros of course in their car park and their Site Operatives worked around the clock to meet the completion date of 17 November. The lights, video and snow went live on 18 November at 18:00. A 30 ton crane was needed for the final installation; the globe is made of 685 m2 of clear PVC fabric, weighing a half ton, kept inflated by fans running to keep the globe pressurised at all times; 8 snow blowing machines are strategically installed around the inside of the base. The base itself is 12 metres across, 4 metres high, made of steel & filled with ballast – weighing 21 tons, with the globe having a 15 metre diameter and 19 metres height.


Eros turned to Snow globe

Silver Blanket could save lives

Silver Blanket that could save your life

So far, we have not seen any of the dreaded white stuff falling from the sky but the chances are there will be some this winter. Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is offering this advice to all drivers – add a ‘Silver Blanket’ to your ‘Winter Driving Kit’. “An emergency foil blanket is a simple item, takes very little space and is cheap and easy to find on the internet. But it could create a difference between a life or death situation, if trapped in your vehicle due to severe weather,” said David Williams, MBE and CEO of GEM. “Whilst we recommend people do not drive in snowy conditions unless absolutely essential, if you do have to drive, make sure you are prepared. In the first instance carry out regular checks on your vehicle to reduce the risk of breakdown,” advises David Williams. “But breakdowns are not the only concern. Snow can suddenly prevent you from continuing on your journey, and every year we read about hordes of motorists stranded on the road – often miles from civilisation. A foil blanket would be a very welcome item to have in your glove box in such a situation,” David Williams said.


Silver Blanket could save lives

Tropicalized electric Taxi unveiled

For those cities in the world that have a tropical climate vehicles need to be able to cope with the heat and humidity.

TUM CREATE has unveiled its electric taxi prototype, codenamed EVA, at the Tokyo Motor Show. TUM CREATE is a joint research program by Technische Universitaet Muenchen and Nanyang Technological University.

A key highlight is the vehicle’s super-fast charging system. It is designed to be recharged in just 15 minutes to cover a realistic range of 200 km (based on Singapore driving patterns), which will be an industry benchmark. “This new electric taxi for tropical mega cities, developed and constructed by two leading universities, highlights the successful collaboration of Technische Universitaet Muenchen and Nanyang Technological University,” said Prof. Dr. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, President of Technische Universitaet Muenchen.

“The challenge of current electric vehicles is the extremely limited range and long recharge times (up to 8 hours), making them impractical as taxis. TUM CREATE aims to address these issues, as well as the unique challenges posed by the heat and humidity in tropical megacities, through its research and development. Unlike temperate climates, passenger cooling and battery pack heat management are issues specific to tropical and equatorial regions. As a form of public transportation, introducing e-taxis into the local taxi fleets has a high leveraging effect to decrease carbon emissions.

While taxis account for less than 3% of the vehicle population in Singapore, they contribute to 15% of the total distance travelled, the average two-shift taxi covers over 500 km a day.”

Tropicalized electric taxi

Norwegian Wood arrives at Trafalgar Square

A 50-year-old Norwegian Spruce has made its way to London from Norway to stand ion Trafalgar Square once again this year.

Each year Oslo donates a tree to the people of London as a mark of thanks for their support during the Second World War. The first was sent to Britain in 1946.

This year’s tree, a 50-metre specimen, known as the Queen of the Forest, was felled by the Mayor of Oslo Fabian Stang, alongside Westminster’s Lord Mayor, Sarah Richardson. The tree made a 700-mile journey by lorry and boat to arrive in London on December 2.

Norwegian Wood at Trafalgar Square

New agency to replace DSA & VOSA

A new agency with responsibility for maintaining vehicle standards is being launched as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. It will replace the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) with responsibilities for setting, testing and enforcing driver and vehicle standards in Great Britain.

There will be a gradual introduction of the new agency name ahead of the formal launch in April 2014, with no change to the level or quality of services during the transition period. The function of DSA has been to improve road safety in Great Britain by setting standards for driving and motorcycling, and for the education and training of drivers and riders.

The agency also carries out driving and riding tests. VOSA provides a range of licensing, testing and enforcement services with the aim of improving the roadworthiness standards of vehicles, ensuring the compliance of operators and drivers with road traffic legislation, and supporting the independent Traffic Commissioners. The new Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will have a broad range of responsibilities, including processing applications for licences to operate lorries and buses, operating testing schemes for all vehicles, and enforcing the law on vehicles to ensure that they comply with legal standards and regulations.

Hitch bravery award given to Cabbie

The Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers makes an award for bravery to people who have shown extreme bravery. The Hitch Award for bravery is not given every year, as it is a prestigious award that is only given in cases of extreme bravery.

On 21st November at the annual Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers Liverymen’s dinner at the Cutlers’ Hall in Warwick Lane the Hitch Award was presented to cab driver John Ward. Rarely does a Judge praise a witness in court, but that is exactly what Her Honour Judge Patricia Lees did when John Ward gave evidence at Snaresbrook Crown Court of the carnage he witnessed while driving along the A13 in September 2010.

He was travelling home after work along the A13 eastbound towards the M25 at around 01:15hrs in the morning of 9 September 2010 in the middle lane of the three-lane carriageway, keeping to a steady 40mph, when a dark coloured BMW 640 coupe with the distinctive registration P1MP R undertook him at high speed. The car turned into a BP fuel station and John continued his journey. Approaching Rainham Marshes, the BMW came out of nowhere very fast before disappearing from John’s sight. But a little further on, at the M25 junction, John saw the same BMW very badly damaged, obviously having been in collision with something. It had come to rest between the slow and middle lanes of the carriageway.

Steam was coming from the engine and there was a strong smell of petrol with debris strewn all over the road. John pulled his the cab across the lanes at ninety degrees to the hard shoulder and put his hazard lights on. He saw the BMW driver at the passenger door of the BMW helping the young girl passenger out of the car. John looked around in the dark and spotted another car some distance ahead; stationary at a 45 degree angle to the road, facing up the banking. He saw a man slumped in the drivers’ seat.

John thought the car could explode at any moment as fuel was spilling everywhere, but the door had been crushed into the bodywork and would not open. John waved down another cab asking his assistance by parking next to his cab to block off the two nearside lanes. Traffic was still speeding past at 70 mph as the ‘fast’ lane was still open. A truck then stopped and parked sideways across the entire three lanes of the carriageway to block the road completely to prevent further accidents or loss of life. The emergency services arrived, to free the driver of the crushed car. Sadly he died and the BMW driver eventually ended up in court.

End of the road for the Tax Disc

2014 will see the end of the road fund tax disc on windscreens. From October motorists will no longer have to display their road tax disc in the windscreen of their vehicles. But you will still be paying Vehicle Excise Duty.

The treasury claims that there will be savings of £20 million. The number of windscreens checked for tax discs by officials has dropped 75 per cent in the last five years, thanks to the electronic vehicle register that is used by both traffic police and the DVLA. The tax disc is no longer needed for enforcement purposes, the police use number plate recognition equipment.

If they pull you over they can immediately tap into this database and see whether the vehicle is taxed and insured and what the driver ought to look like. Road tax is calculated based on the carbon emissions of the vehicle, there are thirteen different bands with annual duties ranging from £0 to £490 and as we know only too well even up to £1,065 for gas guzzlers in their first year on the road. One thing which will most definitely be a plus for motorists will be the choice of paying the vehicle excise duty by monthly direct debit.

It is always a bill that has had to be paid in full and on time so this will be a welcome addition. It will also be cheaper to pay for a six month period due to a 10 percent surcharge it can currently cost £55 for a half-year disc or £100 for a year. Under the reforms, the charge will be reduced from 10 to 5 percent, reducing an identical six-month period to £52.50. Paying monthly will also attract a 5 percent rather than a 10 percent charge. Vehicle tax was introduced in the 1888 budget and the current system of excise duty applying specifically to motor vehicles was introduced in 1920.

The tax disc was introduced in 1921, with a plain design of black ink on grey paper which drivers had to cut out themselves. Colour was introduced in 1923.

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