For anyone who’s familiar with driving around London, you’ll be aware that the city presents its own distinct challenges. Anyone who’s new to London may find the sheer volume of traffic daunting, not to mention the many opportunities to get lost. Actually getting into London can be an experience in itself, particularly if you’re coming from an airport. Capital Karts have compiled a list of some of the most frustrating things about driving in London.
Getting Into London
If you’re approaching the city from the international airports, Heathrow to the west, Gatwick to the south and Stansted to the north, the volume of traffic can be intimidating to anyone unfamiliar with the route. Coming from Heathrow, the M4 is the most direct route; from Gatwick, it’s the M23 and from Stansted, it’s the M11 southbound. Whichever route you choose, heavy traffic will prevail.
Eventually, you’ll arrive at the intersection with London’s famous ring road, the M25. Again, the volume of traffic is immense. It’s also a toll road if you’re using it to cross the River Thames at Dartford, so expect hold-ups at the booths.
London Congestion Charge
Once you reach London, you may be subject to the congestion charge. This is a daily fee imposed for driving your vehicle in certain areas between 7am and 6pm on Monday to Friday. If you’re not familiar with the charge and fail to pay in advance, you’re likely to be hit with a £130 fine.
The congestion charge is mandatory, although there are some exemptions, such as if you’re a disabled driver. If you haven’t paid the congestion charge and inadvertently stray into an area where it’s enforced, you’ll receive a penalty charge notice. If you don’t pay the fine, you may be subject to court action and bailiffs. Not surprisingly, the introduction of the congestion charge hasn’t been popular with a lot of London motorists.
Parking In London
London is one of the most expensive cities in the world when it comes to parking, with an average cost of £42 per day. It can be almost impossible to find a parking space in the city centre. If you do find a space, parking meters can make it horrifically expensive. They also have time limitations – often only two hours. It’s normal to drive around in circles looking for a space.
The general rule is, if in doubt, don’t park, as the fines are rather high if you break the rules. In some cases, you could find your vehicle has been towed away.
Motorists’ Vs Cyclists
It’s been described as a “war” between motorists and cyclists in London. Although there are designated bike lanes, there have been many well-documented cases of clashes between the two parties that have resulted in physical fights.
Motorists frustrated at seeing cyclists whizzing past them as they’re stuck in traffic jams claim their two-wheeled “rivals” cause accidents. By the same token, cyclists complain that motorists are too aggressive and careless.
Heavy traffic across London
Always allow extra time for completing a journey, however short, in anticipation of being stuck in a traffic jam. This is inevitable. As a general rule, apart from the standard bumper-to-bumper traffic and expense of driving in London, avoid doing things such as using bus lanes if you’re driving a car, or getting stuck at traffic lights in the yellow box. Motorists stopping on “keep clear” signs on the road and those causing obstructions with foolish parking are another cause of frustration.
Many people find it so tough driving in London that they opt to commute using public transport, such as the tube or park and ride, as their nerves can’t stand driving around the city every day!