Petrol ban as UK’s first ‘mini’ ULEZ zone goes live in London | NEWS
If you’ve been paying attention over the last couple of years you’ll have seen various stories on SLUK about ULEZ, this isn’t a derogatory term aimed at ladies who like ladies. This is serious stuff that will impact many of us in the future, ULEZ is an acronym for Ultra Low Emission Zone. An area where you’ll have to pay £12.50 per day if you’d like to ride (or drive) a non-compliant vehicle in a ULEZ zone and in some cases you won’t be able to drive a polluting vehicle at all.
If that’s not worrying enough, the first ‘mini’ ULEZ area was rolled out in London earlier this week with a blanket ban on fossil-fueled vehicles at certain times of day, meaning unless you own a zero-emission vehicle you won’t be able to drive (or ride) through certain areas of Hackney/Shoreditch during peak times, unless you want a fixed penalty notice and a fine of up to £130.
Low Emission Neighbourhood
Yes, that’s right, the first petrol/diesel free roads have arrived thanks to three local council’s joining forces to create a Low Emission Neighbourhood, or LEN for short. With funding from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund they aim to reduce air pollution, and improve the look and feel of the neighbourhood by reducing congestion and parked vehicles, whilst also encouraging cycling and walking.
£5 million in funding
The Mayor has given £1 million (each) to five LENs including Shoreditch (City Fringe), Marylebone, Barbican and Greewich Town Centre. These five projects will be operational by April 2019, with Shoreditch (above) coming in to use earlier this week.
An estimated 10,000 Londoners die every year as a result of poor air quality in the city (according to a 2015 study by Kings College London) and rates for childhood asthma and other respiratory illnesses are on the rise.
When I was a youngster, Lenny was a former TV star you didn’t want to meet in the swimming baths, LEN takes on a new even scarier meaning in the 21st century. Restrictions started in the Shoreditch area on Monday 3rd September 2018 and are in place Monday to Friday from 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm (main commuter times) in the designated zones. The fines are being enforced using ANPR cameras and signs have been erected at all entrances to the two zones.
Am I affected?
If you drive through the designated streets in zone 1 or 2 then yes you’ll be affected. Unless of course you have a ULEV – Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (like the electric Retrospective Scooters Vespa conversion we rode recently). A ULEV vehicle includes 100% electric and hydrogen, also some of the very least polluting hybrids (a ULEV vehicle has to make less than 75g/km CO2).
Check your vehicle
You can visit the following website to check if your scooter/car will make the ULEZ grade: Is my scooter too smoky?
Interestingly historic vehicles are (so far) exempt from the forthcoming ULEZ, so if you own a classic with ‘Historic’ tax status you will still be able to ride in a ULEZ zone (from April 9th 2019 when ULEZ is rolled out in Central London) without being charged. This doesn’t apply to LEN though, he won’t be able to drive or ride in a LEN zone during restricted hours on his petrol-powered vehicle.
If your scooter is pre-Euro 3 (made before 2005) but doesn’t have a Historic tax class you’ll be charged £12.50 a day if you accidentally stray into a ULEZ zone. Using the vehicle checker, my 2002 PX and 1999 Italjet Dragster are both subject to ULEZ. My historic 1958/’61/’62 scooters are exempt (for the time being).
Tightening the noose
Like us, many of our readers are dedicated petrolheads and Europe is entering a very scary time. Our major cities are slowly but surely tightening the noose, making life harder for us. Either through the widespread use of biofuels (ethanol) or by restricting what and where we can and can’t ride. Barcelona has recently introduced its own Urban Access Regulations, it’s being phased in slowly but from the 1st of December 2018 pre-Euro 2 motorcycles/scooters will be banned from 7am-8pm. Paris (and a few other French cities) already has restrictions, Amsterdam will have a blanket ban on polluting vehicles soon and the rest of Europe is following quickly.
The electric generation
A bike journalist friend recently remarked that his four-year-old son was currently riding a mini electric bike and that he’d more than likely end up replacing that with the next size up electric trials bike when the time came. He also told me that his son would probably grow up NEVER riding a petrol-powered bike (despite his dad racing and testing superbikes all over the world). That really is the generation we’re entering. It’s up to us to keep riding our smoky two-strokes (and four-strokes) as far and wide as we can whilst we still have a chance. One day visiting and riding through London, or overseas cities on a classic scooter will be nigh on impossible and sadly that day isn’t too far off.
Have you been affected by this story?
Sadly there are no helplines, rehab institutions or Government-backed programmes to help wean us off our fossil fuel addiction. If you’d like to vent your anger, or get something off your chest please feel free to comment below.
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