Car & Motorcycle
||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:
Ideally you should plan your route carefully in advance
to reduce the risk of getting lost and ending up forever
driving around London.
- From the North (Leicester, Nottinghamshire,
Yorkshire) take the M1 then join the M25 at Junction
- 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.
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
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.