Traffic, Driving and Crossing the road, London
For thoses of us who drive on the "right" side of the road the drivng can pose a danger to us. Since we are conditioned to look left first before crossing the street we don't see the oncoming traffic coming from the right. Most of the streets in the touristy areas are now nicely marked to remind us so we don't get hit by oncoming cars.
London has about 150 pedestrian FATALITIES a year. That number does not include all the head injuries, broken bones and internal injuries caused by people being struck by vehicles in this congested city. If you look down on most crosswalks you will see the words ‘LOOK LEFT’ and ‘LOOK RIGHT’. This is not just child’s play. Chances are you are from a country where they drive cars on the right side of the road. Here we drive on the left and often too fast. So ALL vehicles are coming from the direction you are looking away from. You are probably only here for a short stay. Please stop and read. It could save your life. I have lived in the UK for 12 years and I still find myself looking the wrong way.
Before you park your car ANYWHERE in London.. please check the notices on lampposts all along the roads.... most are permit/ residents only... others you need to phone the number given on the notice and give your card details to make the parking payment.
The cost of having your car un-clamped is anything between £110-£130 in Southwark... but each borough will have their own rules/fines etc. Check the GLA website to find more information regarding car parking in London.
This particular car had a German 'F' (for Frankfurt??) number plate - and a sleeping bag in the back.
This is worth repeating - before crossing the street always look right and left. So many pedestrians get injured by not doing something that should be very obvious, so obvious that the pavements have "Look Right" (or left) painted on them.
London's 33 boroughs have permanent cameras to enforce the law on who can and cannot use Bus Lanes. Whilst I totally agree that cameras are the fairest way to enforce traffic laws (because all offenders get caught, not just those who stray into an area in the one hour on the one day each month when the police bother to carry out 'manual' enforcement), there is a nauseating, stinking double standard between the way rules on siting Speed Cameras protect speeding motorists and the way Bus Lane cameras 'nick' anyone who strays onto a Bus Lane.
For example, I was driving on a road in Richmond with a nearside Bus Lane. The Bus Lane ends just before a junction and becomes a left-hand filter lane onto the A316. As the right lane (for traffic going straight on and turning right) had a queue and the left lane was empty, I drove into the last ten yards of an empty Bus Lane. Guess what? I got 'done' by a Bus Lane camera because I used my initiative by using the end of an empty Bus Lane to get into a left hand filter lane, rather than make the queue in the right lane longer!
By comparison, one of the guidelines for speed camera locations forbids them just inside lower speed-limit zones, because they can't differentiate between speeders who ARE slowing to the limit and those with no intention to slow down.
I had to pay a £100 fine, reduced to £50 because I paid within 14 days. I appealed, but lost! ...The robots at the London Borough of Richmond showed no discretion and sent me a picture of me driving in the last ten yards of an otherwise empty bus lane.
From July 1st, 2007, the fine for illegally driving in a bus lane (as well as parking offences and moving offences, such as blocking box junctions, ignoring no entry signs and going the wrong way down a one-way street) goes up to £120 (£60 if you pay within 14 days).
Ken Livingston's controversial congestion charge was implemented on 17th February 2003. They are trying to say that all of the money, millions each day, will go into the public transport... hah!
It now costs £8.00 per day to go in and out of mainstream London for motorists. There are some exemptions, like if you have a Disabled badge, but you do have to put in for the exemption charge first, and pay £10.00 for the pleasure. Strange really, considering the DVLA has all registered disabled cars on a database there anyway; so this should just come automatically.
And you ought to see how many foreign number plates you see on our roads, since these charges came in, it makes you wonder who's diddling who doesn't it? Yep, money goes to money as usual.
But, these charges are like everything in Britain, they are only hurting the less well off as usual. And, did you know that people like 2 Jags John Prescott, doesn't have to pay these congestion charges anyway? As do none of the Ministers. Also, John Prescott can drive unhindered in the Bus lanes, as the rest of them can, you and me couldn't. Talk about one rule for some and one rule for the rest of us eh.
The biggest problem I had as a stranger in London was looking the wrong way for oncoming traffic when I crossed the street. Invariably I would look to my left and see no traffic and start forward only to be surprised by a beep and a car swurving around me from the right side.
I am uninjured today only because the London drivers tend to be more conscientious than let's say New York City drivers.
So when you go, practice looking right when you cross a street.
Speed Cameras are evil. There is no reasoning with them and they do work, all too effectively. There are about 6,000 speed cameras on UK roads – and the numbers are growing. They are both fixed and mobile. At the very least you usually do get a waning sign. If you do see a camera sign, SLOW DOWN!
Below are the different types of mechanical beasts that they use to drive up your motoring and insurance costs:
Sited at the road side, Gatso speed cameras use radar technology to measure speed and a photo of the back of the vehicle is taken. There are markings on the road to do this. Can only see from behind, so you could say someone else was driving.
Sited at the road side, forward facing Truvelo speed cameras use loops in the road to trigger when a speed limit is exceeded. Takes a frontal picture. They can see the drivers face. You are so caught!
Sited on yellow overhead gantries, it measures your average speed between 2 points. Warning signs say AVERAGE SPEED CHECK. If you go past one or 2 cameras, pull over on the hard shoulder and say you had warning lights coming on.
On the road side, Peek speed cameras use loops in the road to trigger when the speed limit is exceeded. They are rear facing and a bit rare outside of London and the south. You can say someone else was driving.
On the road side, Speedcurb speed cameras use loops in the road to trigger when a speed limit is exceeded.
On the road side, Watchman speed cameras use radar technology to measure speed, a photo of the rear of the vehicle is taken. You can claim someone else was driving. These are often paired with a speed display board you can see and covers a long distance. Slow down!
On the road side, Traffic Light cameras are mainly used to enforce red lights. Go over the white line and you will get zapped. These systems can also be used in the same way as a Gatso and the government is looking to make many of these detect speed during green lights. Rear facing, you can lie.
London has cameras everywhere, and the UK is the the most populous "big brother" camera place in the world. (fact).
There is a congestion zone around London - so dont go driving your car or your motorbike into the congestion charge zone without having paid for the priviledge.
To see the zone restrictions visit the Mayors website!
Also for charges and penalties visit the following:
Failing to get registered to enter London will cost you between £50 and £100 in fine!!! (per day)
Be careful crossing the streets of London. Foreign visitors used to driving on the right side of the street tend to look the wrong way when crossing the streets, even though in many pedestrian areas there are signs that say "look right" before crossing.
In the last couple of years, I noticed that increasingly trafiic lights are just viewed as mere suggestion of what you should do.
Every day on my way to work I see cars, taxis, buses, cyclists and pedestrians ignoring red lights and just accelerating when they should break! Only motorbikes seem to behave better, probably because they are so exposed when things go wrong.
Buses in particular, have a tendency to block a whole intersection because they can just barge their way in.
Pedestrians are just plain annoying when they step out of the pavement to cross crowded street anywhere they please, whithout looking, often right in front of a cyclist.
Cyclists ignore red lights most of the time, some whizzing in front of pedestrians, some more courteously waiting for clearance before moving on.
On a map it's quite easy to plot a route through the London area. In practice it's quite a different matter. Three words sum up London's road-signs: pathetic, inadequate, or non-existent.
The route you planned on a map looks a lot less obvious when you're actually on the roads of Greater London: there can be 3 different roads ahead of you at a junction, all look like busy main roads, but only one is the throughroute you need! ...Yet this road might have merely a fingerpost right on the junction: NOT GOOD ENOUGH when there are lots of vehicles ahead blocking your view of the junction & lots of vehicles behind, mostly locals who know where they're going & aren't expecting you to suddenly change lanes, slow or stop.
Keep a map with you when driving in London & if you're not sure, park & check you are still on the correct route.
There is a different trafic direction in England if compare to all Europe. Reverse sides. It's easier for pedestrians at the center of London. You'll find painted white notes on the streets: "LOOK RIGHT" or "LOOK LEFT". That was funny:)
Duck! These shiny red double-decker buses can really motor in the narrow lanes of central London and their passenger-side mirrors hang well out over the curb. To make things worse, as North Americans, we occasionally forget the direction the traffic moves. I don't know how many times on a daily basis I almost got clocked in the back of the head by one of these mirrors. One brushed through my hair once. I've heard stories of people tapping a bus mirror for fun with their hand as it went by and receiving a broken wrist as a result; a hit by one of these to your noggin' could send you flying and result in serious trauma. So, be careful if you're over 6 feet tall! Try not to walk near the curb edge and remember the danger that lurks behind you.
London has to paint directional signs on their streets so that stupid American tourists, like myself, do not get hit by cars. Everytime I have been walking on the streets of London someone in my party has had to grab my elbow and keep me from walking into the path of an oncoming car. I just can never get the knack of looking in the opposite direction for traffic than you do at home in the US. Even with the painted warnings below my feet, I fear one day I will meet my demise in the streets of Londons traffic.
Be aware. Look the opposite direction and check for on coming vehicles.