On Two Continents, Cabbies Protest Uber By Bringing Traffic To A Standstill

Demonstrations in London, Paris, Madrid, and Berlin have disrupted traffic in major commercial centers.

Cabbies across Europe are protesting e-hailing app Uber on Wednesday by disrupting traffic in major metropolitan areas.

More than 30,000 drivers from London, Paris, Madrid, and Berlin have blocked access to airports, shopping districts, and tourist centers, hoping the demonstrations will convince regulators to apply stricter rules to Uber. The biggest turnout is in London, with an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 drivers of black cabs and private hire cars converging on Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, snarling traffic in a "go-slow protest."

On the other side of the globe, taxi drivers in Rio de Janeiro are also disrupting traffic to protest Uber ahead of the World Cup.

London cabbies have been planning the protests for weeks. Capitalizing on the opportunity, Uber on Wednesday launched UberTaxi, an e-hailing platform for cabs, in London. The San Francisco startup said downloads of its app have increased 850% in London in the past week. The app has also been climbing in App Store rankings in other European countries.

"Today, Uber’s focus in Europe was on keeping people moving no matter what, which is our focus every single day in every city we serve," Lane Kasselman, Uber's head of communications, told Fast Company. "Europeans overwhelmingly voted with their fingertips by riding Uber, downloading Uber, and standing up for more consumer choice."

Uber has been aggressively expanding globally, and a recent injection of $1.2 billion will help it enter more cities, even if it's not totally welcomed.

"The bottom line is that with more transportation options, riders win, drivers win, and cities win," Kasselman added.

[Image: Flickr user [Duncan]]

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