Advice

London’s new ULEZ charges for motorcycles

Pre Euro 3 motorcycles will have to pay to use central London roads from April 2019, with a wider area also becoming chargeable in 2021.

This article was first prduced in December 2017 and updated in February and May 2018.

One of Sadiq Khan’s first acts as Mayor of London was to review the plans for London’s LEZ – the Low Emission Zone.

As part of the plans, it’s being proposed that certain motorcycles are going to be charged for access to the Capital’s central areas.

Some of the proposals are pretty drastic and they will affect low-paid and cost-conscious bikers the most, as many bikes will become uneconomical to ride in London. Biker & Bike along with campaign groups like We Ride London and the Motorcycle Action Group are fighting to have motorcycles totally exempted from the charges, due to the lower amount of pollution bikes produce.

When do the charges apply?

The new charges are going to apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including bank holidays, Christmas, Easter and other public holiday.

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Where will the changes be enforceable?

The charges will apply in the current Congestion Zone, an area roughly from Euston Road north of the West End, along to Commercial St to the East, south along New Kent Road and bordered on the west by Park Lane, which will be renamed the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone). This happens on 8th April 2019.

Things change drastically two years later, when the ULEZ expands significantly to include the whole of central London. The new borders will be the North and South Circular roads.

ULEZ map
© Transport for London | The ULEZ will expand to the North and South Circular roads in 2021

How much will a motorcycle pay?

During the Congestion Zone phase, all motorcycles are currently exempt from the Emissions Surcharge. This will continue until 8th April next year (2019).

When the ULEZ comes into force, any motorcycle built before 2007, i.e. before the implementation of the Euro 3 emissions standard, will have to pay £12.50 per day. The charge will apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The only exemptions from paying the charge are historic vehicles and vehicles with ‘disabled’ or ‘disabled passenger vehicles’ as their tax class. Blue Badge holders using a pre-Euro motorcycle that is neither historic (loosely older than 40 years since the date of first registration) or registered as a disabled vehicle will have to pay the full charge.

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Will residents get a discount?

Until the ULEZ comes into force in 2019, chargeable (car and other vehicle driving) residents within the Congestion Zone get a 90% discount. What happens then is still being decided, but in Summer 2016 TfL would only say, “Transport for London is currently considering extension of the Emissions Surcharge for residents of the zone after 2020. Precise details will be covered in a future phase of consultation this Autumn.”

Is the new charge fair on bikers?

There’s no doubt that measures need to be taken to combat London’s chronic pollution problem. The city constantly breaks its legal pollution limits.

However, the case for getting more people out of cars and onto motorcycles is, in our opinion, difficult to argue against.

Right now, motorbikes account for less than 1% of nitrous oxide emissions in London. TfL should be encouraging anyone with a commute longer than a cycle ride to be switching from a car to a motorcycle. What is definitely unfair is that a heavily polluting vehicle, say a diesel Range Rover, would pay exactly the same as a small-engined four-stroke motorcycle.

So including any bike built before 2007 is well-intentioned but punitive towards the people who most need to use their own vehicles – we’re thinking of London night-time economy workers especially – catering staff on low incomes who need affordable personal transport due to unsocial hours and who are unlikely to be able to afford to upgrade to a newer bike.

We also feel it disincentives younger people who again are faced with increasing financial pressures – rising rents and higher commuting costs. These are the people who can more easily afford a 15-year-old bike than a 5-year-old one.

Editorial note:
This article has been updated from an earlier version that gave incorrect information on exempt vehicles

How to get yourself sorted:

There will be an inevitable hit on pre-2007 bike values in 2019, maybe even as soon as 2018. If you can afford to upgrade before then it might be worth it – there is unlikely to be a scrapple scheme in the same format as that proposed for diesel vehicles.

If you are looking at a second-hand bike right now, it’s wise to go for post-2007 models as those registered before will inevitably take a hit on resale values.

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The Author

Sue Denim

Sue Denim

International woman of mystery, bike nut and in her words, 'If it's worth riding, babes, I'll ride it.' Well put.

Sue likes to keep a low profile as she has another day job...