How to Avoid Traffic Congestion

by : James Johnson

Great Britain is experiencing a considerable traffic congestion problem. The Department for Transport published a bulletin on various road statistics. The numbers show that the problem is not only currently present, but it is increasing at a rather exponential rate. Between the years of 2005 and 2006, it is estimated that the level of traffic increased by 7 billion vehicle kilometers to 506 billion vehicle kilometers. Of this vehicle traffic, car traffic accounted for 402.4 billion vehicle kilometers, or 79%.

Some areas in the UK are imposing a congestion charge on motorists who drive within certain zones during certain times. This charge was created to encourage motorists to think twice before taking their vehicles into typically congested areas, such as central London, thus encouraging them to find alternative forms of transportation. If the motorists elect to continue traveling in or through these zones, they will be subject to a daily charge, which they can pay daily, monthly annually. The charge is incurred between 7am and 6pm, Monday through Friday with the exception of public holidays.

All vehicles driving in or through the charge zone must pay. This behavior is governed by the implementation of cameras that allow the UK government to record the plates of drivers within the zone. Some vehicles do enjoy an exemption from the charge, though. Taxis, licensed minicabs, emergency service vehicles, blue/orange badge holders (disabled drivers) and alternative energy vehicles are not subject to the charge. There are also some groups of vehicles that are entitled to a discount such as breakdown services, residents and people who reside on the border of the zone.

Motorcycles, motorbikes with sidecars, mopeds and bicycles are exempt from the congestion charge. It is not necessary to register them; however, motorcycles that are more than one meter in width or more than two meters in length do not fit into the exempt class and are therefore subject to the charge. This leads to an interesting consideration. Should more people get their CBT in response to this zone charge? Or, even more compelling, will this zone charge (particularly as it is being extended) result on more people obtaining their CBTs and will there be more motorcycles on the road?

A CBT, or compulsory basic training, is what most new motorcycle riders need first. The CBT allows new riders to ride a legal moped, motorcycle or a scooter as a learner. For some people, remaining as a learner is fine for them, for others, they choose to pursue a full license test to obtain a full license that has a 2 year power restriction.

Will we see more people hopping on "hogs" to get from point A to point B, particularly if they must travel through a congestion charge zone? Perhaps, but the larger questions begs, should more people pursue their CBTs? Certainly a motorcycle reduces traffic congestion and has fewer emissions, meaning that they are more environmentally friendly that their four wheeled counterparts. But there are some tremendous safety issues and a certain danger stigma attached to motorcycles. Only time will tell.