Road-block cabbies: ‘We will be back’
Black cab drivers start a ‘war of attrition’ over plans to ban taxis from Tottenham Court Road
28 January, 2019 — By Dan Carrier
Cabbies’ Tottenham Court Road protest causes gridlock in the area
A CONTROVERSIAL plan to ban cars and cabs from Tottenham Court Road has led to a major protest from taxi drivers.
The plans – due to be introduced in March – are part of a radical revamp that will see Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street turned into two-way routes with vehicles banned between 8am and 7pm.
Cabbies formed blockades down the roads each day last week and have vowed to continue a “war of attrition” against Camden Council. The changes are designed to improve cyclists’ safety and reduce pollution.
Organised by the Independent Taxidrivers Association, members parked their black cabs on the road, blocking traffic heading north to Euston Road.
They called on the council to lift the restriction on cabs, adding: “They could reasonably conclude that taxi access to bus lanes is liable to enhance the efficiency of the London road transport system.”
The radical cab drivers’ group, whose rush-hour protest has caused gridlock in surrounding streets, has warned that it will not back down and that demonstrations will continue.
They said they would be back “…every day, same time, same place… we refuse to be destroyed by you!”
Relatives of a patient at University College Hospital’s Macmillan Cancer Centre said they were left stranded on Tuesday night and were unable to book a taxi through the ComCam app after a dose of treatment. A taxi driver ended up leaving the blockade and driving the patient home to West Hampstead for free.
Camden’s environment chief, Adam Harrison, said the changes would improve traffic flow and air quality.
The Labour councillor added: “Central London is afflicted by high levels of congestion and air pollution – this is not a situation any of us should have to put up with any longer.
“Camden Council agreed the West End Project because of our strong belief that an urban environment does not have to be an unhealthy one. This major change will help guarantee the future of Camden’s part of the West End, making it a better place to live, work and visit. The project will reduce motor traffic by up to a quarter. New cycle lanes up Gower Street will enable healthier travel for more people.”
The council added that research showed the vast majority of people using University College Hospital travelled by public transport and would not be affected by the changes, with bus journey times and reliability improving.
The scheme was introduced partly to coincide with the opening of a Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road, which will bring thousands of extra visitors to the area.
Developer Derwent London is building offices on the western stretch of the road. A new “pocket park” in what is now Alfred Place will close the back street to all traffic.