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Guide to Central London
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Getting Around in Cental London Driving or motorbiking around England can be a great experience as you take in the lushness of the countryside or the appeal of the cityscapes however this is rarely the case when driving in London.

London is encircled by one of the most notorious roads in England – the M25. Built around 20 years ago to ease the congestion on the existing North and South Circular roads closer to the city centre, the M25 is now the main thoroughfare for getting from one side of London to the other.

This means that the M25 can be very congested, and particularly journeying at peak time can be frustrating and time consuming.

Although its reputation may not be the most encouraging, in terms of getting in and out of London it usually forms part of the most straightforward routes.

And the good news is that the M25 is not all bad so if you travel outside peak times you may end up wondering what all the fuss is about.

All major routes in and out of London hit the M25 so:
  • From the North (Leicester, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire) take the M1 then join the M25 at Junction 21.
  • From Oxfordshire and near Birmingham take the M40 joining the M25 at junction 16.
  • From the West take the M4, then the A329 (M) and then the M25 join the M25 at junction 15.
  • From the South West (Hampshire and Southampton) take the M3 and join the M25 at junction 12.
  • From the South take the M23 joining the M25 at junction 7.
  • From the South East (Kent area) take the M20 to meet the M25 at junction 3.
  • From the East take the A13 or the A12 which meet the M25 at junctions 30 and 29 respectively. However both these roads continue straight into central London with the A12 taking you into Hackney in east London and the A13 taking you into Whitechapel.
Ideally you should plan your route carefully in advance to reduce the risk of getting lost and ending up forever driving around London.

Another aspect of driving in London you should be aware of is congestion charging. In February 2003, Ken Livingstone, London’s mayor, introduced an extra charge for travelling into the centre of London between the hours of 7:00am and 6.30pm Mon-Fri (excluding Bank Holidays). There is now a £5 fee for entering the ‘charging zone’, which should be paid before midnight on the day of travel. This can be done via the website, over the phone and at shops, petrol stations and post offices in and around the charging zone.

If you do not pay the £5 charge by the end of the day this will immediately increase to £80. The only vehicles that are exempt from the charge are motorcyclists and taxis.

The ‘charging zone’ is roughly between King's Cross station to the north, Vauxhall station to the south Edgeware to the west and Aldgate East station in the east, which encompasses Marylebone, Soho, the City, Mayfair, Covent Garden, Bloomsbury, Holburn, Southwark, Lambeth, Barbican, Clerkenwell, Finsbury, Euston and St Pancras.

Combine the congestion charge with the parking issues and you may get the distinct impression that London is not a car friendly city.

Finding parking in London can be really difficult and if you do find a spot you could end up spending most of your spending money on the privilege. Even residents can pay a high premium for a dedicated parking spot. The best idea would be to leave the car and use public transport or taxis to get to where you want to go.

Spaces in London are usually paid for using a dedicated parking meter which can be found next to the parking bay or by purchasing a ticket from a machine nearby the space and displaying the ticket in the windscreen of the car. If you do not buy a ticket or if you spend longer than the time you’ve paid for then you could be clamped or towed away. This also applies if you park anywhere you shouldn’t i.e. double yellow lines, bus lanes, single yellow lines (outside safe times) and so on.


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