Re: Run

1

It's rubbish though, I live within six miles of Charing Cross and I've never not had to give a cabbie detailed directions of how to find my street. They know the major roads and that's it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:28 AM
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Six miles is a huge distance. Excepting trips for holidays, I live my whole life in a circle with a six mile diameter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:30 AM
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I live my whole life in a circle with a six mile diameter.

A teeny tiny Culture Orbital. Don't tell alameida, she'll be jealous.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:33 AM
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It does mean that I basically can't take a taxi unless I am going to the airport. They won't show up for a short run.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:36 AM
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I would try Uber, but we have a car and the bus routes cover 95% of where I go.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:38 AM
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A Knowledge boy mnemonic instructs: "East to West, Lambeth or Westminster Bridge is best."

That's a rubbish mnemonic. You could put any bridges in there and it wouldn't affect the mnemonicnosity


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:38 AM
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IME, mnemonics tend to work pretty well even when they're non-functional in that kind of way. Doesn't matter if it shouldn't work, just the extra attention to the fact due to learning even a non-working mnemonic makes it stick.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:41 AM
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So it's like US bar examinations - binge-memorization as gauntlet to credential, and then the knowledge slips away as mostly unneeded.

Also, from this description of the process it looks like there's no assessment of actual driving skills besides a license - just medical exam, criminal background check, and then rounds of written and then oral test.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:48 AM
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Also, from this description of the process it looks like there's no assessment of actual driving skills besides a license - just medical exam, criminal background check, and then rounds of written and then oral test.

That's what a driver's licence is for, no? Bear in mind the UK licence is much tougher than in most states.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:50 AM
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1. I haven't read the article yet, but I've heard that you don't need to pass The Knowledge to get a taxi license anymore. (I think it was in the context of ragging on GPS navigation, or more generally "kids today...")


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 9:56 AM
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Ah, you can't drive the big blacks taxis w/o The Knowledge, but you can drive a minicab.

The naivete of the article and the drivers about "sat-nav" is touching.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:03 AM
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The naivete of the article and the drivers about "sat-nav" is touching.

I don't know about that, but it has certainly swallowed the bullshit about the Knowledge wholesale. "Oh, they all know about all the Wren churches and the obscure handbag shops" - do they hell. As I say, in my invariable experience, unless you want a major street or a major landmark, you need to give a London cabbie detailed directions on how to get there - just like a minicab driver, if the minicab driver didn't have satnav.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:14 AM
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That's what a driver's licence is for, no? Bear in mind the UK licence is much tougher than in most states.

I imagine the licensing process gets most people up to a good basic standard, but there must still be ways professional drivers can and perhaps should be a cut above, if the qualifications were really about excellence and not about being a gauntlet.

Also, actually driving an efficient route is more complicated than pathfinding, so I'm surprised it's all just written and oral without a practical. The examiners will randomly "block off" streets, but what about the skill of identifying from a distance that a street has been blocked off?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:16 AM
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Ajay, you're killing me. I want to believe that every London cabbie has a memory palace with all of London inside it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:22 AM
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It looks like there's a common driving test required for both taxi and minicab licenses, but it only takes 40 minutes.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:22 AM
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The drivers can just instantly tell that ajay secretly needs to give them detailed instructions. They could get him to wherever easily but they've got a better read on him than that.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:30 AM
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16: Yes, identifying that personality type is part of the exam.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:34 AM
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I can't search for this at work, but do any of you Brits remember the Viz strip where Cockney Wanker is applying for his hack licence? He has passed "The Knowledge", but must now prove he can pass "The Ignorance" by finding the shortest conversational pathway between two topics, such as "How 'bout those Spice Girls?" to "I'd pull the bladdy lever meself!". IIRC, he gets tripped up on the shortest path between "Bladdy awful weather, innit?" to "I say, send 'em all back!".


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:39 AM
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16 is unnervingly plausible.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:40 AM
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18: nice. The only person who has actually informed me that there are too many blacks in London and "I wouldn't want my daughter to marry one" was a London taxi driver.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:41 AM
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20: A black cab driver, though?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:47 AM
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A (black cab) driver, yes.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 10:51 AM
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I've had the 'Where's Wapping' experience with a minicab, except that in my case the driver didn't know where Hackney was.

We started with the restaurant ('Where's that?') then the road ('Where's that?') then told him it was in Hackney ('Where's that?). Oh, the other difference is that we were in Hackney at the time. It was at that point that we all got out of the cab. He wanted to be paid anyway and in the end we had to call up the company, to get the dispatcher to argue with him on our behalf.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 11:02 AM
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Last time but one I was in London we got a minicab driver who had never heard of Fleet Street.

Rarely had the sort of trouble with black cabs that ajay speaks of, but then I rarely want to take one 6 miles from Charing X.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 11:08 AM
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9: The UK test has become noticeably harder over the last decade. I just passed my third theory test (once for cars, once for motorbikes that lapsed when I left the country, and once again for motorbikes that will probably lapse again). Since 2012 you can no longer memorise all the answers in a huge book by rote and, while many of the questions are easy the-answer-is-always-slow-down-and-wait-patiently type, there are more arbitrary and inessential pick-a-number-at-random type questions that I previously associated with dubious pub quiz machines. Like the maximum speed for mobility scooter users, or the maximum length of time you can purchase a tax disc for in a post office.

Plus the hazard perception tests videos appear to have been filmed on a webcam circa 2003 and are genuinely diffcult to decipher. If your experience of looking at the road was genuinely that bad, you'd probably be a hazard in and of yourself and require eyesight correction.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 11:18 AM
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I wasn't paying close attention the one time I took a cab in London (yikes, 26 years ago), but a friend who goes there regularly for business has experience more like that of ajay and would prefer that the Knowledge die in a fire.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 11:21 AM
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the maximum length of time you can purchase a tax disc for in a post office.

Depends on the length of the queue, surely.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 11:23 AM
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27: there wasn't an option for 'until the next phase of privatisation'


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 11:27 AM
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There was a UK TV mini-series/movie "The Knowledge" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082624/ which was brought over to PBS at some point. I remember it as being pretty good.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 11:34 AM
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So what is the speed limit for mobility scooter users? I realistically expect to be using one of those babies by the end of the decade, and I want to go FAST.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 11:42 AM
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8 mph, I'm sorry to say.

I know that from the practice tests here, not from the real test - you don't get to find out which answers you got wrong, only how many.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 11:54 AM
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31. Screw that, I'll have to get some off road practice.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 12:14 PM
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The UK test has become noticeably harder over the last decade.

A decade or two ago, Germans who couldn't pass their local driver licensing exam would go to the UK and get their license there, after EU states agreed to recognize one another's driving credentials. Apparently learning to drive on the other side of the road was easier than learning to pass the German theoretical exam for some people. I imagine the UK was getting some pressure from other EU states to tighten up its standards.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 12:17 PM
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I call it for neb in 16. My better half has a scary level of "knowledge" re both London and SF, and regularly gets in it with cab drivers. I rarely seem to have any troubles getting places reasonably efficiently when on my own, though. The only city where I've regularly had to get into it with cab drivers taking stupid/crazy routes or just openly denying that locations exist is Paris.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 12:21 PM
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8 mph, I'm sorry to say.

I'm pretty sure this is being broken every day in my town.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 12:23 PM
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33: I can imagine - no idea about the theory (I got to skip that and the first aid) but I'm very pleased that I didn't opt to do the test in Switzerland, where the examiner sits on the back of your bike for the duration of the test (how do they live past 30?). Plus you only get three tries, ever. You have to have an appointment with a therapist after you fail a second time, and I've never been clear whether that's to help with the stress of the third test or to get to the bottom of why you're continuing to try something you're so obviously unsuited for.


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 12:23 PM
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33: When I was in Germany this summer, for some reason the higher standards of German drivers were more apparent to me than in the past. My German FIL is explicitly safety conscious as a driver (and in fact, in the US, is noticeably conservative), but the way he drives would seem crazy to an American. AB finds it stressful just to be a passenger on the Autobahn. I find driving over there to be invigorating as hell - you basically do need total situational awareness.

Do they have ongoing re-testing? Is it, in fact, at all common not to have a license? I really don't see how you could get all of the population up to that standard.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 12:29 PM
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32: Like with this?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 12:30 PM
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The link in 38 is a brief window into the world of the ambitious portion of my childhood friends.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 12:47 PM
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6: You have the temerity to accuse me of jejunosity?!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 12:57 PM
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I associate The Knowledge exclusively with the sort of dumb one from the UP series who wanted to be a jockey, so it's surprising to me to think that it's that hard.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 1:00 PM
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38. I seriously did not expect that. What's it for in theory?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 1:08 PM
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People with mobility issues who live in areas without pavement or want to travel in those areas (e.g. to shoot a deer).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 1:11 PM
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33 I'm wondering why the Germans didn't just go to Belgium, because Belgian drivers are pretty shit so their test can't be too tough. But it's probably because Belgian roads are fucking horrendous.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 2:52 PM
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(The actual road surfaces.)


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-20-14 2:53 PM
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I can't believe the German test is that hard because they have a big Turkish population and the Turks are the worst drivers in the entire world.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 12:23 AM
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Related, a friend of mine managed to drive for several years in the UK based on a licence he had obtained in the Cook Islands, a part of the Commonwealth so remote that people in New Zealand say "The Cook Islands? That's a bit remote, isn't it?" (though they are actually associated with New Zealand, politically speaking, and therefore presumably come under the ambit of the Mystic Chicken) and so small that the driving test apparently consists of driving once round one of the larger islands and managing to stop at the traffic light and not bump into the other car.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 2:43 AM
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and the Turks are the worst drivers in the entire world.

I've never been to Turkey, but I can safely say they cannot feasibly be worse that Pakistani long distance truck drivers (in Pakistan).


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 4:02 AM
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I have a friend with a Cooks license - from memory, they are basically NZ licenses with the Cooks flag stuck on.

It's a sore point with tourists - the Cooks aren't a party to the Vienna Convention (on Road Traffic) and so you can't use other countries licenses there. So if you want to hire a moped, it costs the price of the moped plus a $20 license, which just goes to the government as a backdoor tax, plus hanging around the Cooks traffic bureau for an hour or so. Apparently one year they lost three months worth of applications.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 4:06 AM
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Apparently the moped test is, literally, get on the moped, don't fall off, turn around, come back to where you started.

(My friend grew up in the Cooks, so I don't know if or when they were ever actually tested properly, come to think of it.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 4:19 AM
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(Still grumbling to myself about Belgian roads - two years ago C and I drove to a small town near Tournai, along this spectacularly awful road. The Belgians like to build their roads out of slabs of concrete, with gaps between them. We have a shitty (but loved) old van with little in the way of suspension. You don't know whether to drive slowly to reduce the bumps, or fast to get it over and done with. And then last year, at Easter, C, Kid D and I found ourselves bumping along another horrible Belgian road. "God, it's nearly as bad as last year's!" "No, it's worse!" We got to the next junction and realised it was the same fucking road.)


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 4:35 AM
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I'm just been driving in the Philadelphia area. It's pretty bad. Worse than Belgium, ime, if you're hoping to rely on signage.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 6:00 AM
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The Cook Islands also at least used to have the best gun control law in the world: you could have all the guns you liked, but you could only buy ammunition from the police, accounting for how you used the last lot.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 9:58 AM
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"Officer, I used my ammunition to scare away the guy who was shooting up the stop signs by my house."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 10:00 AM
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37: "you basically do need total situational awareness."

Yes. My son and I were discussing this last evening. There are fewer scary surprises when one drives at least a bit aggressively. Just going with the flow encourages day-dreaming.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 10:05 AM
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52. The roads in the Philly area were produced by dropping a bowl of pasta on a map and then duplicating the pattern on the countryside.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 10:46 AM
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Turns out Uber makes a fuckton of money.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-21-14 10:59 AM
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