For those that want to drive in and around London, there are a few important things to be aware of if you are going to be a motorist in the capital. Many are intimidated by the prospect of driving in London (or any major city) as they hear many horror stories, but armed with a bit of knowledge it can actually be a great way to get around the city and a better option than public transportation (which can be unreliable).
Here is what you need to know:
This is a daily charge that you must pay if you plan to drive a vehicle within the charging zone between 7:00 and 18:00 on weekdays. You can find the charging zone online, or look out for a large “C” letter in a red circle signpost. The fee can be paid in advance (which is cheaper) up to 90 days before, on the day of travel, or before midnight the next charging day. If you fail to pay, you will have to pay a Penalty Charge of £130 (50% discount if you pay within 28 days). People living within the zone receive a 90% discount.
You should always plan where to park ahead of your trip and particularly in Central London, where it is busy and difficult to find spaces. Research nearby car parks as this will be the cheapest, easiest and safest place to leave your vehicle.
Alternatively, the streets have restrictions that typically apply between 8:30 and 18:30 Monday to Saturday – check the signposts on the road for more information. Many offer a “Pay and Display” scheme, but these can be expensive. You face fines and possible clamping if parked in the wrong place or without a ticket.
Traffic can be very busy during peak hours and more so the closer towards Central you get. If travelling at this time, or around Central, you may find it best to use public transportation – particularly if you are not a confident driver. The road network can be complex, so it is highly recommended that you have satellite navigation or plan your route thoroughly. Other areas of London are much quieter and driving can be a fast and efficient way to get around the capital.
Driving in London can be daunting, but as long as you are aware of the congestion charge, parking situation and traffic it should not be too stressful. Although challenging in busy areas or peak times, many people find it a better to drive than rely on public transportation.