Driving through a city you are not familiar with can be fraught with the unknown which can make your journey unnecessarily stressful. While the pandemic has taken the pressure off the volume of traffic, this has been replaced with zoning restrictions designed to reduce carbon emissions in city centres.
Low Emission Zones
Low emission zones have been introduced in cities across Europe as part of a wider strategy to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions. There are different pricing levels for HGVs, public transport, petrol and diesel car drivers, and those with electric cars. The success of these zones so far has seen amazing results in cities such as London, where black carbon has been reduced by over 40 per cent, NO₂ has reduced by 36 per cent, and CO₂ by 13 per cent.
Preparation and planning is key – researching any clean air zones could save you being fined over £100 in some cases as you normally need to register and pay the fee before you enter the zone. Simply Google Low Emission Zone and the name of the city you are visiting, and the details should come up immediately.
You can log in with your vehicle registration details and pay the fee – usually about £12.50 – together with the date of travel, and your details will be stored on a database. When you make your journey, a CCTV ANPR Automatic Number Plate Registration system, much like the ones used in car parking, will log your vehicle details against you payment details.
Planning Ahead For Your Parking
Cities are in a contradictory situation whereby they want to attract you into the city so that you can do business, eat out in their restaurants, stay in their hotels, and generally bring money into the city’s economies. At the same time, the wat to actively restrict the amount of traffic that comes into the city so that they can reduce pollution, and improve air quality in line with government directives.
If you want to explore the stunning architecture of Edinburgh, for example, you might want to consider booking the train instead of driving. This will relieve the pressure and stress of driving through an unfamiliar location and remove the need to worry about parking.
However, a bit of preplanning could mean that you can book and pay your parking space in advance. Websites like Justpark advertise parking spaces all over the country, offered often by individuals who are simply looking to make a bit of extra money. You could elect to park outside the city for a very reasonable cost (far more reasonable than city centre parking if you take in to account the parking fee and the Low Emission fee), and simply book a taxi to get you into the city centre.
Other Restrictions To Be Aware Of
City centres restrictions are notoriously zealous in their enforcement so you do need to be aware all the time, whether you are driving in the UK or further afield in Europe.
Watch out for bicycle and bus lanes. Both of these are monitored at all times and it is illegal for you to drive in them at any time, leading to a potential fine. Some studies have shown how up to 44 per cent of motorists have at some stage inadvertently driven in a bus lane. Inadvertent or not, it is illegal, and you could end up with a fine.
Equally, if a cycle lane has a solid white line along its border, you must not cross it, other than to take a turn. If the cycle lane has a broken border line you can enter the area, but do so with extreme caution.