February 20, 2003

Congestion Charge

(Note for our overseas visitors: London has introduced a charging scheme which means you pay �5 (That's around �7.50 or $8) per day to drive into the city centre. There are exemptions and one of these is cover all two wheelers, even those with sidecars, so I don't pay. But not trikes, which do have to stump up the cash. Go figure.)

It's difficult to say whether there's been much impact yet. The roads are quite quiet. But, it's also half-term for the local schools so I have no idea whether there's been any measurable effect on traffic.

What I can say is that there's definitely been an increase in motorbikes on the road recently. That might just be the approaching Spring bringing the return of the fair-weather bikers but I don't think so. There's been a particularly noticeable increase in the number of what I can only call Commuter Scooters.

You know the kind of thing I mean. Ranging from BMWs curious C1 and Honda's overblown Silver Wing down through the Yamahas, Benellis (when did they come back?), Piaggios and Vespas, right down to the perennially popular C70s, C50s and their clones. The twist-and-go easy access route for the non-hardcore biker to get onto two wheels.

The main effect I've noticed from this is that there seem to be more small bikes broken down at the roadside and that the filtering queues have become longer. Many of the pilots of these smaller bikes lack the top end, the confidence or the will to make good progress. Don't know if it'll pass in time but I suspect not.

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