Plans to introduce a special charge for some motorbikes travelling through Central London have bikers up in arms. If current proposals go ahead, motorcyclists could potentially face a daily charge of around £12.50, making this mode of transport much more expensive for regular commuters.
The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and the Congestion Charge
Although many are calling this new fee a congestion charge, it is in fact a separate charge to what motorists have to pay to enter the Congestion Charge Zone.
Currently, all two-wheelers are congestion charge exempt and the new plans will not change this.
However, under the current proposal, the Congestion Charge Zone will also become an Ultra-Low Emission Zone by 2020. For private vehicles entering this zone, they must meet the European emission standards or they face an additional charge, on top of the congestion charge.
Non-compliant lorries and coaches would have to pay a penalty of £100. Cars, vans, minibuses and motorcycles will all be levied £12.50.
So based on the current Congestion Charge, car owners may have to fork out £24 in total to drive in Central London each day. For those with HGVs that are not up to scratch, they will face a combined charge of over £120 per day. Since motorbikes are current exempt from the Congestion Charge, the combined charge for riding in London will be £12.50.
Why introduce the ULEZ?
The ULEZ is the mayor’s latest attempt at improving the quality of air in London. Boris Johnson claims that having an ultra-low emission zone is essential to safeguard the well being of all Londoners. This follows a previous government study on the impact of air pollution on mortality rates in London.
Which bikes will be charged?
Bikers can breathe a sigh of relief as not all machines will be slapped with the new ULEZ charge. Only vehicles that fail to meet the new exhaust emission standards applicable to the ULEZ will have to pay a penalty. As it stands, this basically means bikes built before 2007 will incur an additional charge if you ride them in and around Central London.
When will charges begin?
Since the new ULEZ will come into force in 2020, the new rules will take effect that year, from 7 September. It will apply 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. There will be no scope for discounts or peak and off-peak periods.
Role of motorbikes in emissions
Some bikers are astonished at the new charge to be levied on motorcycles because generally, this mode of transport contributes little toxic emissions. In fact, it accounts for less than 1% of nitrous oxide emissions and help to reduce overall emissions by having fewer cars from on the road.
However, older bikes with outdated technology are often regarded as heavy polluters. Although motorcycles, mopeds and similar machines can emit a lot of toxic fumes on an individual basis, in total, they account for a small proportion of kilometres driven in central London. It appears these new plans are being put in place to discourage their use, so that newer and greener vehicles can take their place.
Interestingly, based on levels of nitrous oxide emissions, TFL buses are actually the worst offenders at 23 per cent, while diesel cars and taxis are next at 18 per cent each. Petrol cars account for just 3 per cent of emissions.
Want your voice to be heard?
Boris Johnson’s ULEZ proposal has recently gone to public consultation. This means riders who want to have some input, or feel that the charges are unfair, need to voice out their concerns and opinions now.
How badly will it impact motorcycle riders?
By 2020, current bikes in use that were built before 2007 will be more than 13 years old. According to Transport for London, many
Top bikes for 2015
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Kawasaki Ninja H2
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Ducati 1199 Panigale/Panigale R
This 2015 model features 3-level ABS as standard equipment, race-derived seat material for an enhanced rider experience and the 899’s additional hazard light function.
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