Driving in London, London
Driving in London can be daunting or it can be calm, depending on where you are from. In my opinion, driving in London is much more leisurley than driving in say New York City or Boston, as drivers here tend to be more patient, and you see much less traffic violations, in part due to the presence of so many cameras everywhere you go. it should be remembered that driving here is on the wrong side of the road, and thus a right turn is the tricky one, not a left turn.
The main headache with driving in London, especially central London, is the fact that the streets are not on a grid, and that there are some narrow streets, dead ends, and streets that you cannot enter. Couple that with high parking prices, and you get the feeling that it is not practical to drive in central London, especially if you are a visitor.
Parking for the Prime attraction of Camden and it's markets is never easy.
One way around this is to use the supermarket of 'Morissons'. If you spend ten pounds there then you can park for two hours free. You are only supposed to use the supermarket, but it is easily connected via a short flight of steps in the far corner (not signposted) to the heart of the Camden Lock market.
Find the supermarket by driving under (coming from central London) the Camden Lock bridge and the side of the Market, after a couple of hundred yards there is a road to the left by the Morrisons petrol station that goes under the railway line and into the car park.
P.s they also do great cheap sandwiches and beans on toast in their cafe !
Although this pic was not actually taken in London, but Great Yarmouth instead, I thought it could be a lovely way to get to the beach from London! Notice the abundant amount of space still available for full size vehicle parking? I was amazed at just how tiny cars can actually be in England. I even saw a car with 3 wheels! (tires / tyres)
Actually, once you are situated in your hotel in London, I would advise using the convenient double-deckers available to get you safely to your destination. I was visiting someone who lived in England, and we drove around a bit in London, but mostly trying to get to the hotel, and out of London. I say we, Ha! I meant he drove and I looked at all the sites whirling by. We spent our time walking in London mostly, but caught a few double-deckers to get us around the city. I didn't care for the idea of the underground system because I wanted to see the sites of London.
One of the reasons I included this tip is because I have a little story to tell you. While I was still back home in Memphis, the gentleman asked me on the telephone, if we had Ford KA's there? With his dashing accent, I naturally assumed he said Ford cars, so I responded with, "Of course! This is America, home to Henry Ford, himself!" As it turned out, I was WRONG, we do not have Ford KA's after all. I only found out just how wrong I was when I spotted this Ford KA "car" in the pic. We both had a good laugh about it, and I just had to take this photo. Oh by the way, I did actually drive in England, and managed a few roundabouts even, but certainly not my first day in London!
London is not great to drive around unless you need to use a vehicle for carrying things and sometimes convenience.
I feel that the best form of transport are the metros and can get you all around London and from A - Z, with relative ease apart from when there are delays (lots of them), trains are full up (always happens), trains are cancelled (always happens), regulating the train service (happens occasionally) and when somebody jumps in front of the train (sad, strange but true).
If you wanna travel round the city and you don't wanna use public transport then do it in style, jump in and enjoy the ride.
if you come from Heathrow you can get the Heathrow Express which arrives at Paddington, look at www.heathrowexpress.co.uk. This is a bit expensive £13 one way and £23 return. Cheaper option is the piccadilly line, look at www.the tube.com to help you find out where the piccadilly line go.
If you come from Gatwick you can get the Gatwick Express which arrives at Victoria look at www.gatwickexpress.co.uk. This cost £11 one way and £21 return.
If you come from Standsted which takes you into Liverpool Street. Look at wwww.stanstedexpress.co.uk. Cost is £13 one way and £23 return.
If you come from City Airport look at www.londoncityairport.com. As the airport is only 9 miles from east of central londn it may be easier to get a taxi. There is a shuttle bus Canning Town DLR and Canary Wharf DLR and tube.
If you come from Luton Airport look at www.london-luton.com. A free shuttle bus takes five minutes to take passengers to Lutgon Airport Parkway station which is connected by rail to Kings Cross
Driving in London is hectic, dangerous, and very easily to get lost. There always seems to be a million different junctions, and the road signs aren't always particularly helpful. To make matters worse the roads are always busy, and it would appear that everyone apart from yourself knows where they are going. You definately have to be extremely visualant and have your wits about you in this vast city!
If you consider taxi a common form of transport, you may wish to consider going by Stretch Limo!
This sort of thing doesn't appeal to me, but it is not uncommon to see people being driven around London in a stretch Limosine complete with chauffeur driver (Hey, you wouldn't want to drive one yourself and have to try and find a parking spot for it!)
You'll also get to turn peoples heads as you speed past (well maybe it will be crawl past in Londons congestd roads - or if you're really unlucky, you'll be watching the pedestrians go past YOU).
Save yourself time and stress by not driving in London. The underground is so much faster and more convenient. Traffic is really bad in the center of London or in the "touristy" areas. Plus, parking is hard to find and the fines are pretty steep if you should illegally park somewhere. Plus, if you normally drive on the right side of the road, you might get confused and London is not a place where you want to make a mistake.
Not to mention the price of gas. My cousin has a small Ford Escort and he says it costs him almost 40 British Pounds just to fill up a car! Better to save the money on something else!
Then there's the question of the the congestion fee. When you drive in the center of London, you'll be in the congestion zone and there's a fee of 5 quid. Should you forget to pay, they'll fine you around 30 quid. And believe me, they'll catch you. Its pretty amazing that with the high number of cars that drive through London, they are still able to keep track of who pays and who doesn't.
These insidious creations litter virtually all of London's roads. A few points which might help however :
1) Always park carefully in the confines of a parking bay - you can get a ticket if you don't.
2) Always check when exactly it is in operation, Saturday afternoon, Sundays and Bank Holidays can sometimes be free!
3) If someone else leaves before their time is up, you can use their credit.
4) Have plenty of change ready
5) A local car park might actually work our cheaper.
6) Don't park on a meter that is broken or with a bag over it.
If you are visting the Theatreland (Covent Garden) or Tower Bridge area then it is useful to know that unlike most of the rest of London the parking meters in the Law Courts area (East of the Aldwych) and the Financial district currently stop charging at 1.30 PM.
Not much use in driving around London (Especially w/ the congestion tax-about 7 to 8 GBP). Unless, your thrill is to drive on the wrong side of the road. Not as bad as other countries but, lots of traffic. The tube and bus are far more practical. If not take a taxi.
Driving in London is a bad idea and to discourage you further, the mayor, Ken Livingstone has recently introduced the Congestion charge. During weekdays, you will be charged ?5 for the privelidge of driving within the centre of London.
There are various ways to pay (phone, internet etc) and this must be done on the same day to avoid the ?80 fine.
Full details are on the website
If you want to do some touring by car in the UK, a cheap car hire option is Easy Car.
They have locations across London, and each location has only the one type of car, which helps them to keep costs down.
You can hire a car via the internet, and the earlier ahead you book, the cheaper deals you can get.
Don't try and drive around London - parking is very difficult and expensive and from 17.3.2003 there will be a £5.00 a day (ie Monday to Friday from 7am to 6.30pm) Congestion Charge for driving in a large area of central London with a fine of £80 if you have not paid BEFORE 10.00pm on the day you enter the charging zone.
Feb 2004 Figures have now been produced that show that the Congestion Charge has had the effect of reducing the traffic by 15+% but the downside has been that all the big retailers in Oxford Street have reported a serious downturn in their trading.