Mayor Ken Livingstone wants to see central London impose a transit fee for non-resident vehicles. But will this get people out of their cars and onto bikes and public transport; or will motorists swallow any and all congestion charges?

London’s mayor proposes £5 charge for motorists entering London

Congestion charging could be reality in central London by January 2003.

Mayor Ken Livingstone has unveiled a 10-year transport strategy which also proposes major improvements in London’s tube and rail networks, as well as boosting cycling.

Yet despite the charge, Livingstone expects only 15 percent of motorists would be deflected to other forms of transport.

London’s scheme is being watched closely by local authorities in Bristol, Leicester, Greater Manchester, Nottingham, Cambridge, Derby, Durham, Birmingham and Edinburgh who would also like to introduce congestion charging.

The congestion charge would apply on weekdays between 7am and 7pm and would be enforced by digital cameras able to read number plates.

Local residents will have to pay 50p to travel their own streets. Motorists will pay the charges on the day or in advance through garages, newsagents and shops, by post, telephone, or the internet.

Whilst the majority of motorists will absorb the extra cost, commuting by bike is sure to rise. And the use of folding bikes is likely to increase too, as drivers park their cars on the edges of fee-bearing areas and then pop their boots to reveal a folding bike which they would hop on to complete their journey.

Wishful thinking? We’ll soon see…

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