Cycle Superhighways are cycle routes running from outer London into and across central London. They give you a safer, faster and more direct journey into the city and could be your best and quickest way into work. There are currently plans for 8 cycle superhighways in total. You can download the routes and maps here.
Quietways will be a network of radial and orbital cycle routes throughout London. There will be seven in total, most of which will be completed by the end of 2017. Linking key destinations, they will follow backstreet routes, through parks, along waterways or tree lined streets. The routes will be great for cyclists who want to use quieter, low traffic routes and travel at a more gentle pace. Each Quietway will provide a continuous route for cyclists and every London borough will benefit from the programme. You can download the routes and maps here.
When the sun does shine in London, the Santander Cycles scheme can be a welcome relief from the hot, stuffy tube.
Popularly known as ‘Boris Bikes’ after the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Santander Cycles is London’s public self-service bicycle sharing scheme for short journeys. There are more than 8000 bikes and over 550 docking stations across the city. Bikes can be hired by the day, week or year based on a small registration fee.
Once you have paid the bike access fee for the day, the first 30 minutes of each journey is free. Longer journeys cost more for each extra 30 minutes.
Simply go to any docking station with your bank card and follow the on screen instructions. There is no need to book and you can simply hire a bike, ride it where you like and return it to any docking station.
London is a city that is always on the go; with places to go and people to see any time saving solutions are most welcome. London buses are always busy and so to save time, cash is no longer accepted to pay for your bus fare.
That means no more passengers rummaging about in their wallets to find the right change and no more bus drivers counting out the change for the passenger that paid with a £20 note!
Instead, you can pay using an Oyster Card with pay as you go credit, a Travelcard, a Bus & Tram pass, or a contactless payment card. You only need to touch your Oyster or contactless payment card on the yellow card reader when you board the bus. It is not necessary when you get off.
If you do not have enough credit on your Oyster card to pay the fare or your Bus & Tram Pass or Travelcard have expired, do not worry as you will not be left stranded. You can make one more journey on a bus.
You must then top up your pay as you go credit to clear the negative balance before you can use your card again.
Driving in a new country can take some getting used to especially when you are on the wrong side of the car and the road, and so it is important to understand the rules of the road in order to be safe, not only for yourself but the other road users around you.
The Highway Code applies to England, Scotland and Wales and is essential reading for everyone. It outlines the mandatory rules for all road users in the UK and gives information on road signs, road markings, vehicle markings and road safety, as well as guidance on vehicle maintenance, documentation, license requirements and vehicle security.
All road users (drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders) need to be aware of the Code and must be considerate towards one another.
Many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements and any disregard for them could potentially result in a fine, driving suspension or penalty points on your license.
Knowing and applying the rules contained in the Highway Code could significantly reduce road accidents and so it is important to familiarise yourself with the Code. You can pick up a hard copy in most bookstores or it is available to download online.
Queuing at the machines in rush hour and being confused by the endless ticket options is no fun at all which is why the Oyster card is a must for Londoners.
Oyster is a plastic smartcard which replaces the need for paper tickets. It can hold pay as you go credit, Travelcards and Bus & Tram passes and will work out which one to use to make sure you never pay more than you need to. Oyster cards can be used to travel on the bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in London.
You will need to pay a deposit when getting a new Oyster card, however this will be refunded when you return your card.
Using your Oyster card is easy. Simply touch in and out on the card readers to pay the right fare.
Your Oyster card can also be managed online enabling you to check your balance, journey history and top up easily. By signing up for auto top-up you can be sure you will never run out of credit. Your card will be automatically topped up with money from your debit or credit card whenever the balance falls below £10.
There are also over 4000 newsagents and shops across London where it is also possible to top-up your Oyster card.
Driving in a new country is a daunting enough challenge, and so adding in another aspect to think about – the congestion zone – can be quite overwhelming.
The London Congestion Charge is a daily fee for motorists travelling within the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ). The main objectives of the charge are to reduce congestion and raise funds for investment in London’s transport system.
The congestion charge has a set daily rate that you have to pay if you drive or park in the zone between 07.00 and 18.00, Monday to Friday. You only need to pay once, no matter how many times you drive in and out of the Congestion zone in one day. There is no charge on the weekends, public holidays, between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive, or between 18.00 and 07.00 on weekdays.
Ways to Pay
The easiest way to pay the charge is by registering for Congestion Charge Auto Pay. This automated system will record the number of days your car travels within the zone and bill you each month. There is a small fee to register a vehicle, but the daily charge is then reduced. It also means you will never forget to pay the charge again or face Penalty Charge notices.
Alternatively you can pay in advance (up to 90 days) or by midnight on the day of travel. This can be done online via Transport For London’s website or by SMS or phone.
It is also possible to pay by midnight the following charging day but this will cost more. If you travel on a Friday you have until midnight on the following Monday to pay.
Exemptions and Discounts
There are a range of exemptions and discounts available to certain individuals. If you live in the charging zone or in a designated area next to the zone you may be eligible for a 90% discount. You will need to register online to apply for this discount and it is possible to claim a refund for the charges incurred since submitting your application.