If you live or commute into London, you will undoubtedly have heard about a raft of emission charges, toxicity charges or ultra low emission zone charges being banded about to tackle pollution. With so many charges, consultations and plans a foot it’s tough to get a grip of what the hell is actually coming into affect and how it’ll affect you and your bike.
Pollution is pretty bad in London, but motorcycles should definitely be considered as part of the solution. Bikes rarely, if ever sit still in traffic jams and have much shorter journey times and thus pollute less. Recent TFL consultations even concluded bikes contribute less than 1% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. So read on to learn how to avoid the charges and keep biking.
This one has been around for a few years, but all motorcycle are exempt (except some larger 3-wheelers over 2m long). It covers the zone shown in map below. Not new news, but many new charges cover the same area.
T-Charge / ES-Charge
The Emission Surcharge (ES-Charge) or as previously labelled the Toxicity Charge, has just been approved by Sadiq Khan and will come into force on the 23rd October 2017. The key details:
- Covers congestion charge zone (above)
- Operates Mon-Fri 7am-6pm
- £10 a day (in addition to £11.50 congestion charge)
- Affects any car, van not euro 4 compliant
Thankfully all motorcycles are exempt from this charge.
Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)
This ULEZ is a future charge that has confirmed plans that do affect motorcycle. Past consultations are now over and a two phased rollout has been confirmed.
- From 8th April 2019: charge area covers congestion charge zone (above)
- From 25th October 2021: charge area extended to cover area within North/South Circulars.
- Operates 24-7
- £12.50 per day
- Affects any non-Euro 3 motorcycle registered before 1st July 2007
Note: electric and historic tax class bikes are exempt from the ULEZ charge. If your bike is Euro 3 compliant and registered before July 2007 you can apparently register it’s exemption with TFL, however it is not yet clear how this will work.
TFL have a vehicle checker tool to allow you to confirm if you vehicle is affected based on it’s registration plate. However, there have been reports of it’s data not being 100% accurate, and having many updates over past months. So, I would not take this as gospel and do keep checking.
Watch this space for news and developments on the ULEZ, as this affects bikers most directly and could potentially many more if things change. Especially those with cheap old commuter hacks.
So there you have it, for the short term you can keep on biking unaffected. But by 8th April 2019 you’ll need a ride newer than 2007. Of course, such a forced upgrade will devalue any pre-2007 significantly.
Update: some recent developments: It now seems any bike with sufficiently low NOx emissions (below 0.15g/km) will be exempt. However, this needs to be proved to TFL on a per bike basis. You can find this info either from your V5c doc, by acquiring a certificate of compliance from your bike manufacturer (albeit at an admin cost), or by getting your bike specifically measured at https://www.nationalemissionstestcentre.com/ who are the only certified testers.
Seasoned London commuter, doing my best to stay rubber side down and never stop moving forward.