Road closed. Diversion signs. All in the day's work for a London black cab driver and he or she will know the best alternative route to go. Follow that arrow as it points towards the stationary scooter rider and this is where that knowledge will start. To get a licence to drive a taxi in London you have to be able to find a route without looking at a map or relying on a sat nav and pass "The Knowledge". Our scooter driver is learning to do just that and is a Knowledge Boy learning the routes with his clipboard fixed to the handlebars showing the routes to be learnt that day.
He will have to learn 25,000 streets within 6 miles of Charing Cross and major arterial routes, points of interest (hospitals, hotels, theatres, squares etc), traffic signals, cross junctions, roundabouts and know what is alongside at all points. This Knowledge Boy was making notes and memorising, oblivious to the lines of traffic passing
The Knowledge test was started in 1865, the days of the hansom cab when only the clip clop of horses feet were heard in London. Today it starts with a written test and then will need at least 12 appearances (attempts at final test) after preparing for an average of 34 months learning 320 standard routes or runs in central London when the Blue Book "Guide to Learning the Knowledge of London" will be their constant companion, until they pass the exam and can gain a license to drive a taxi cab.
Here is another Knowledge Boy where the clipboard routes of the day can be seen. I was surprising that I accidentally managed to get a better picture of this with a moving target than one that was stationary. Then I thought I would finish this post with a photo of a London black cab taxi but realised I'm usually trying to avoid cabs and cars when trying to photograph London architecture. I've got a lot of half cabs disappearing or appearing the edges of photographs but managed to find one picture where it is just in shot, taken late on a winter's afternoon.
Research has found that London taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus (the part of the brain that deals with spacial memory and navigation) than the general population.