Met police

How much is Khan pocketing from his cozy relationship with Deliveroo?

Johnson may be gone, but we was a symptom of the malaise of the country rather than an outlier. Law breaking, letting powerful entities mistreat workers, ignorance, corruption and impunity are endemic.

Take the use of electric bikes by Deliveroo riders. We have all witnessed their riders on bicycle with illegal motors, either propelling the bike at speed much higher than the 25 kph limit, or functioning with no pedal stroke, or both. These bikes are not only illegal, but also a danger to the riders, to pedestrians and other cyclists.

We first reported a number of riders to Deliveroo, but they didn’t care. We tried to escalate the complaint higher up, and we were told the typical bullshit “the welfare of our riders is of outmost concern”. But what are they actually doing to ensure that their riders use legal bikes? No response.

My name is Gary and I work in the Serious Complaints team at Deliveroo.

We appreciate you bringing this issue to our attention and I am very sorry that you had this experience.

Safety for everyone is our highest priority. As with all road users, we expect all our riders including cyclists, to obey the highway code at all times.

I have shared this information with our Rider Operations team to review and follow up with the riders in the area directly, as in line with our internal policy.

We then contacted the local police. We received the typical ignorant response: “e-bikes are not illegal to be ridden on the roads therefore there is no action to take against this.”. We had to explain these people the law of the country (which admittedly was imported from the EU; but is that an excuse for such flagrant ignorance?).

We escalated to the top Metropolitan Police officer in charge of Vision Zero, Daniel Card. He was non committal:

“we have considered taking action and do so where there are offences apparent.”

So we issued a FOIA request to the Metropolitan Police, inquiring what specific actions have been taken against the company?

The response seemed to have been written by the Deliveroo legal team:

In other words, Deliveroo is making a mockery of the law and the Police is happy allowing them to do it.

This is very English: let the powerful do what they want and fuck the country, let’s concentrate on persecuting the poor, especially if they come from ethnic backgrounds.

Dangerous to themselves and to others. Photo via Reuters

We then asked our representative at the London General Assembly to ask the Mayor if he was happy with this exploitation of gig workers. Maybe the fact that these workers have a similar status to that of his father at a young age, would move him to act. But in England, class trumps ethnicity, and the former lawyer doesn’t seem to care about gig workers (or bus drivers, as he has shown during the first year of the pandemic)

The office of Caroline Russell was quite slow in getting an answer and seemed uninterested in pursuing this issue.

This is the response we received ten months after having asked.

I am afraid it is very difficult to get the police to change their policy on something like this, and they are right that under the law riders are self-employed and Deliveroo does not provide the bikes and it is down to the individual rider to ensure that their bike is compliant with the law.

The Mayor has said previously that he met with the founder and CEO of Deliveroo in December 2020 to discuss a range of issues, including rider conditions and wellbeing and that he calls on all digital platform operators across sectors to recognise the right of workers to organise and bargain collectively for better working conditions.  so hopefully there can be improvements.

Let’s see again what the Mayor stated in July last year

I met with the founder and CEO of Deliveroo in December to discuss a range of issues, including rider conditions and wellbeing. …

Genuine two-way flexibility where both boss and worker have a say in working patterns is a good thing. But when abused by unscrupulous businesses, it creates a race to the bottom in low pay, insecurity and bad practice.

In my second term, I will work with Londoners, businesses, unions, and other stakeholders to develop a charter for the on-demand economy, to help promote the highest standards and shine a light on bad practices.

To be fair the Mayor, he has created the Good Work Standard but it is again the typical bullshit PR exercise, where companies sign up to get a badge, but nothing is done against rogue operators who “create a race to the bottom of bad practices”.

Fortunately the race to the bottom is not presently happening; some of the Deliveroo’s competitors provide good legal ebikes to their riders.

Why then does the Mayor let Deliveroo act like Qatari builders? Is it because the company gave him some cheap shares at the IPO?

And dear reader, if you are so lazy that you cannot walk or ride your bike to your favourite restaurant, at least delete the Deliveroo app.

Nightlife and cycling

Two o’clock on a Saturday morning in Copenhagen and you see hundreds of people leaving bars and heading home on their bikes.

Screenshot 2019-06-24 at 19.15.13

In London, we are not there yet. During a conversation with an officer  at the Mayor’s Office who works in the 24 Hour London department, the following areas for improvement were identified:

  • Anti-social driving – There is a perception among many drivers that the rules of the road are more malleable at night: speed limits are understood to be 15-20kph higher than what is stipulated for the day. The dominance of professional drivers who have an incentive to speed and of leisure drivers who want to show off their monster machines creates a cocktail of bad driving that is sanctioned by lack of enforcement by the police. Overall it creates a very hostile environment for anyone cycling.

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  • Indiscriminate parking on cycle lanes – During the day we have taxi drivers who claim they can invade mandatory cycle lanes. At night, the prevalent attitude is that cycle lanes are infrastructure for when the sun shines. This widespread lawbreaking is encouraged by the Police who in their ignorance of the Highway Code, do not enforce Rule 140. This creates a very dangerous environment, when people who ride away from the door zone, are harassed by impatient drivers, high on their self-importance boosted by German horsepower.

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  • Closure of parks – Go to Hackney Wick on a Friday night and you see the Overground station packed, but hardly anyway cycling home. The reason is simple: Victoria Park is closed and one is forced to ride on hostile roads. It is a mystery why certain authorities think that closing parks at night is a good idea. There are many parks which stay open and there seems no evidence that personal safety is at risk. What is needed is more lighting to make the parks feel safer.
  • Some QuietWays don’t feel safe at night – The cowardly strategy by the Khan administration to push cycle routes to back streets is a disservice to those citizens who do not feel safe riding in dark neighbourhoods with low footfall.Screenshot 2019-06-24 at 18.50.13
  • Fear of Theft – Many night venues have inadequate cycle parking facilities and often they are placed in thief-friendly positions, in dark corners or alleyways. Many people are reluctant to cycle at night for fear of not finding their bike when they need to return home.

The advantage of spending time and money on measures to solve the above problems is not only to improve safety but also to shift a certain image of English nightlife of heavy drinking and hooliganism towards a more gentle, more inclusive and more welcoming model.

Screenshot 2019-06-24 at 18.48.05

All images by Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Boroughs alarmed by Met’s collision data

One of the key principles of Vision Zero is learning from failure. In order to draw valuable conclusions and reduce the number of avoidable deaths, it is essential to have good timely granular data and have the willingness to analyse it.

In November 2016, the Metropolitan Police introduced a new input database for collision data. It seems that they did not ask themselves “What is this data for? What social good can we or others extract from it?” They certainly did not have any leadership from Transport for London, which, in spite of Khan’s stated intention of “leading the most transparent, engaged and accessible administration London has ever seen” see collision data as a dangerous weapon if it falls in public hands. In spite of continuous requests for the past four years, TfL refuses to publish a real-time database of KSIs of vulnerable road users on London streets. If we can do it, why can’t the organisation tasked to oversee the safety of citizens on London streets do it?

The consequences of the introduction of the new database have been pretty bad:

  1. For the past two years, the Metropolitan Police has been unable to meet the June deadline for reporting the previous year’s collision data, thus delaying by several months the release of national statistics
  2. London Borough engineers have noticed a reduction in data and data quality in respect to collision information sent to them via Transport for London.

 

TransportXtra reports:

“It seems that previously the Met had a designated team who would process collision data but it has now been disbanded and police officers are recording their own collision records electronically via COPA, the Case Overview and Preparation Application.”

Frost says boroughs are now receiving records “with no description of how the collision occurred”.

This makes it near-on impossible to identify patterns in the collision data or within clusters of collisions. Poor data quality is impacting on the level of analysis boroughs can undertake, making it harder to prioritise and plan our programmes, or to design effective remedial measures.

“Also, because the data is very delayed it is affecting reporting of annual and quarterly targets in a timely manner.”

Frost says injury severity reporting has also changed. “The criteria for severity categorisation has been altered in such a way that more collisions than in previous years are now being classed as a serious injury where before they would have been recorded as slight injury. This means, going forward, producing meaningful data comparisons with previous years and the tracking of year-on-year trends will be extremely difficult.”

 

Vision Zero or Zero Vision?