Safe London walk?

Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 09:11 AM
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Safe London walk?

Is it safe to walk back from the Palace Theatre on Shaftsbury to our hotel on Oxford Street near Bond Street after an evening show? How long should it take? Are taxis hard/easy to find?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 09:21 AM
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Who is "us"? If you are two twenty something women in sexy clothes all alone I'd think twice. But if you're a regular couple or even two average people of either sex, I wouldn't think twice about it.
London is amazingly safe. I'm thinking it would take 10 minutes to walk, maybe 15 at most.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 09:23 AM
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I have always felt safe walking alone at night in most parts of London, especially in heavily touristed ares like the theatre district. If you prefer a taxi I don't think it will be a problem. The last time I was there I saw a long line of taxis waiting outside the theatre just after the show ended.

One word of caution--when I was there last I saw a young man approach a couple and ask if they needed a taxi. They followed him to a car which he called his taxi. It looked like any other car on the street and nothing like a taxi. The couple wisely refused to get in. I hope a Londoner will comment on this, but I have been told to make sure you get into an actual taxi and do not accept a ride from someone claiming to be a taxi driver, but using a regular car.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 09:32 AM
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Oh, that is frightening. I know there are hundreds of unmarked cars as car services, but I believe it is totally illegal for them to pick someone up from the street. They must be called to a particular destination, I think.
I can't imagine doing what this couple did! Unless they were looking for more that just a ride home.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 09:35 AM
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That was a gypsy cab.

Not licensed, Not metered, Not a good idea to take one.

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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 09:39 AM
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If you enter tha ddresses at www.mappy.com and change "express" to "pedestrian", it will give you the suggested route.

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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 09:51 AM
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Pirate cabs are truly dreadful things to take if you're a woman alone.

But the worst I've ever heard happen to a couple or a man using them is that they waste a lot of time going some very badly thought through routes home.

Like virtually anything in London, there's no absolute rule about pirate cabs. If you're trying to get home late at night, aren't on a night bus route and can't get an ordinary cab, they're a great deal safer than walking through some of the slightly dodgy areas many of us natives have to pass going back to our garrets.

If you're staying in the tourist ghettoes OTOH, or have poor English, you do run a risk of being conned into paying over the odds with them. Or of finding an incompetent, uninsured driver. And walking is safe pretty much everywhere inside the Central Line, 24 hours a day.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 10:13 AM
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Patrick, I'm not sure we are on the same page. The couple did NOT get into the car with this guy. When they followed him to the car, I heard the man say something like, "Hey, wait a minute, who owns this cab?" The driver said that he owns it. The man told the driver that this doesn't look like a real cab and they weren't going with him. What's scary though, is that the woman couldn't seem to understand why her husband was so unwilling to accept this "cab" ride. It gave me the impression that she probably would have gotten into the car with him, had she been alone.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 11:28 AM
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dflawyer: Believe me - you can probably walk that distance quicker than you could hail a cab. All the theatres let out at approx. the same times and literally thousands of folks are out walking because there are 100 couples out for every available taxi.

The walk would certainly be safe if you use even minimal common sense. If the walk troubles you, hang out in the Soho/Picadilly/chinatown area for a while - after theatre drinks or a late supper and then look for a cab. They are easier to find about and hour after all the shows have let out.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 11:54 AM
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I've never had any problems in London - even riding the tube back to the suburbs at 11:00 PM after seeing a play. I wouldn't walk through my own neighborhood at that time. For such a large city, London is safe. If you're still concerned, Janis' suggestion on waiting on a cab for later is very good.
I think you'll be fine.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 12:14 PM
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We walked a similar route with four children in tow! No safety concerns. There are so many people about you should have no problem. Taxis are too hard to get!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 12:28 PM
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If you've never been to London, or to the West End in particular, then I can see that you might not appreciate how busy it is at most times of the day and night. You are describing a really very short walk, one which I have done alone (am a 30 year old woman) many, many times late at night. Seriously, I wouldn't think about it at all, just do exactly the same as you would do at home and stick to the main roads as far as possible.

With regard to the dodgy mini-cabs, they are illegal and there have been a number of stories over the years with regard to attacks on women and they can also be a bit of a rip-off. I have succumbed to them on occasion (at 3am you just want to get home by any means and your judgement is hazy) and, thankfully, there has never been a problem but I have always had fake conversations on my mobile phone throughout the journey. I really wouldn't recommend taking them, however, particularly if you don't know the area and would be unable to detect them taking an incorrect route. I would only take one now as an ABSOLUTE last resort.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 03:55 PM
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maybe it is time for a definition of "mini cab". It has nothing to do with either the Mini automobile, or the size of the "cab". These are just private cars that take you places -- hopefully where you want to go

There are totally legit "mini cab" companies - some of the car services people talk about on here would qualify. They are drivers/car services that undercut the rates of the traditional black cabs. But they cannot legally pick up passengers on the street - they must be booked ahead. So if a car stops to offer a ride, totally ignore them.

But if you need a discounted, safe ride somewhere, just ask you hotel or B&B to recommend a mini cab company that they are familiar with. I frequently use mini cabs - especially for trips out to the airport if other modes won't work or are too expensive.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 02:53 AM
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dflawyer's proposed walk should be pretty safe, if a bit long for my taste at that time of night. All you have to do is walk up to New Oxford St - once there turn left and keep going - or better still, get any one of a number of buses going along in that direction that will take you past your hotel: 7, 8, 10, 25, 73, 390 for starters. See: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/buses/spiders/...ord_circus.pdf

I would have thought it's unlikely that your show will turn out after the night buses start, but there are almost as many equivalent night bus routes going along that route as well.

For the sake of completeness, it's worth pointing out that the police currently have a rather frightening campaign on to warn people (especially women) against rogue touts claiming to be a cab service. If they're not a regular black taxi with the appropriate license clearly displayed, it's illegal for them to tout for business on the street anyway - they should only expect prior bookings, and you should only make such a booking with a recommended company. If anyone comes up to you and offers to drive you as a cab service, they're almost certainly breaking the law simply by doing so. They may not be a dangerous criminal, but they might not have the right insurance, or a properly-maintained car, and they might not know the way.

http://www.met.police.uk/sapphire/feature2.htm
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