Every dot on this map shows a ULEZ/Clean Air Zone - either in force or planned - click the map for an interactive look at Europe
Every dot on this map shows a ULEZ/Clean Air Zone – either in force or planned – click the map for an interactive look at Europe

We’ve been bringing news of the impending doom of ULEZ – Ultra Low Emission Zones for a while now. In case you’ve skipped over those stories and dismissed them as scaremongering, or fake news you can recap on a couple of our earlier stories here and here.

Basically, ULEZ is another man-sized nail in the coffin for the freedom to choose what we ride and where we ride it. This isn’t just about London though, it’s happening around Europe. This threatens (and will restrict) our freedom to travel around Europe by scooter far more than any BREXIT deal.

London Mayor Chaka Khan has a lot to answer for
London Mayor Chaka Khan has a lot to answer for

London – I feel for you

Yesterday (November 27th) London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, announced the full implications of the London ULEZ. Unlike Birmingham who wisely exempted motorcycles from its own forthcoming ULEZ zone, London is going to charge you £12.50 per day to ride anything made before 2007 and it comes into force on April 8th 2019.

If you ride a scooter made before Euro 3 (which came into force in 2007) you’ll have to pay £12.50 to ride it in certain parts of London (that area will be widened as well). That means if you have a Vespa GTS made in 2006 you’ll be charged, the same with your Vespa PX, your Indian Lambretta, Serveta, Italjet Dragster and a whole host of other popular machines.

Historic exemption – life begins at 40

One good bit of news is that historic vehicles will be exempt, so if your scooter (or scooters) are 40 years old or over (built before 1979 when ULEZ launches in April) then you can carry on as normal. You can check your own vehicles using this link.

The exemption is on a rolling basis so when your scooter reaches its 40th Birthday you’ll be free from the shackles of ULEZ, unless of course they change the rules before then…

If you live in London and want to ride your filthy polluting scooter to a rally, in the future it’ll cost you £25 for the pleasure of leaving home and riding back again. Forget to pay on Sunday when you arrive home with a hangover and you’ll be charged £160.

Residents exemption

If you live near the boundary for ULEZ in London and are registered for the Congestion Charge discount you’ll be given until 24th October 2021 to change your beautiful classic scooter for a mundane modern one, or start paying the £12.50 a day charge. See above for full details.

Forget your city rideouts (image courtesy of Ghost Photography)
Forget your city rideouts (image courtesy of Ghost Photography)

European route checker

Many of us venture abroad on our scooters a few times a year and no doubt have a few cities to tick off our list on the way. It’s very easy to stumble upon a city where our humble scooters are banned, or will be in the future. You could end up with a hefty fine for straying into a clean air zone by accident. It’s not easy to understand signs in a foreign city and the rules differ from place to place so check out this handy route planner when planning your next adventure.

Silent death

It’s predicted that there will be around 9-million electric cars on the road by 2030. Imagine a city without traffic noise, smells or variety? in a few years, time all you’ll hear is the whirr of motors gliding by and tread against tarmac. Oh except for the electric cars of course which will from July 2018 be forced to emit a noise, research has already shown that pedestrians are 40% more likely to be involved in a collision with an electric vehicle.

Between 2012-2013 there was a 54% rise in the number of pedestrian casualties involving quiet cars. That figure will only rise, with the sight, or hearing-impaired, the older generation and children being the most at risk.

Are you wondering what that noise generator will sound like for electric cars from next year? Maybe a V8 Mustang? An annoying beep? Nope, the agreed tone is said to mimic the sound of falling water.

Soundtrack to the city

Scooters were invented to mobilise people after the ravages of World War 2, they were easy to ride, economical and great for nipping around cities. Especially as the world became wealthier and cars became more affordable. In fact, the car quickly took over and turned our cities into a place where the only way to get around on time was on a scooter. They’re a fantastic tool, you don’t have to sit in traffic, your journey times are much shorter than in a car, your scooter uses up much less space and is far easier to park. Classic scooters, classic cars and interesting vehicles are part of the fabric of a city. They’re as important as the architecture, the statues, the palaces and the people. Nobody ever stopped and stared at a Toyota Prius and you’re not likely to buy a souvenir from Rome with a generic looking electric scooter on it. You want to see something with character.

Another stealth tax?

Ok, for some cities ULEZ won’t be a total blanket ban on so-called ‘Polluting vehicles’ but if you want to use them you will have to be prepared to cough up. Surely if something is so bad for the environment it should be banned full stop? A ‘fine’ for using a polluting vehicle is just another way of extorting cash from motorists.

Will ULEZ affect you?

Personally, I live out in the sticks, I only go into the nearest city (Nottingham) when I have to and I only go into London for work, always on a scooter of some description despite the 250-mile round trip. I do travel abroad quite frequently on a classic scooter though and ULEZ will have an effect on where I can go.

Let us know in the comments below if you live in a city with the threat of ULEZ or a ban on scooters looming over it. Has this latest scam in the name of pollution affected you? Will you have to change your mode of transport to get to work in a city?

Are you a motorcycle dealer?

The knock on effect of moving over to ‘greener’ modes of transport means servicing will be much cheaper and quicker in the future. There will be no major engine rebuilds, you won’t be blowing pistons and aftermarket accessory businesses will also take a major hit. After all, you don’t need a performance exhaust for your Vespa Elettrica, and you’re not likely to accessorise your electric Chinese scooter either. If you’re a motorcycle dealer/aftermarket parts supplier or are involved in the bike trade feel free to leave your comments as well.

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