Will driving in London ever get easier?

Anyone who has driven in London will attest – it is a nightmare. The traffic, cramped streets, cycle lanes, bus lanes, speed cameras, congestion charge… You get the picture.

According to the team at AutoVolo, car ownership figures are increasing significantly in the city, and we want to explore whether the infrastructure will be able to cope in the future.

The M25

The M25, or the London orbital, is the ring of motorway that surrounds London. Although, locals joke that it is less of motorway and more of a car park, because there’s so much traffic that no-one ever moves! The problem is that as well as taking a huge chunk of the traffic in and out of London, the M25 also handles traffic for all the satellite towns and other southern cities. As you can imagine, this is a huge amount of vehicles.

It certainly doesn’t seem that the amount of traffic flowing through this area is going to decrease – London is only ever expanding. And while public transport is always improving, there’s still a lot of car traffic in and around the area.

One suggested solution was to build a double decker carriageway, something akin to Spaghetti junction in the West Midlands. Whether or not this comes to fruition, we shall see. One thing is certain, it will take something as drastic as this to make driving on the M25 any easier…

Congestion Charge

The Congestion charge was introduced in 2003 as a way of reducing traffic in central London. To drive into London’s centre during the day, it will set you back £11.50 for a car, and a penalty of up to £195 if you are caught without paying.

This adds an extra stress to driving in London, as there are many routes that avoid the congestion charge zone, but stray too far from these routes and you may find yourself heading into the centre – and that fine is quite the price to pay for such a mistake.

The congestion charge is almost certainly not going away anytime soon – in fact there are plans to extend where it applies and also more measures to be brought in to levy the most polluting cars that enter London.

Of course, if you choose to pay the congestion charge, you may find that it makes your journey easier. Not only do you avoid worrying about taking a wrong turn and getting a hefty fine, you’ll find that areas inside the zone are a little less congested – although they are still far from plain sailing!


The final thing I want to cover here is the cycle-highways that cross London. These are integrated into the design of roads, with the intention to try and keep cyclists and traffic separate as much as possible. They have seen huge investment and also a high level of controversy. On the one hand, it is great that cyclist’s needs are being met, and that the dangers of cycling on city roads are being recognised. However, some feel there were much more efficient ways of achieving the aims.

Either way, as cycling only gains in popularity, it is clear that this will be an area of development that the city focuses on. This could actually be excellent news for drivers in the city for two reasons. First, if cycling continues to increase in popularity, and is made easier and easier by safe city development, then this could see a downturn in traffic as more people exchange their car for a bike, Secondly, well planned bike lanes that clearly demarcate and separate bikes and cars also reduces the stress of driving in the city as it helps keep bikes and cars apart. This takes at least some of the strains off a city driver.

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