Tips

Tips for Driving in London and Other UK Cities

July 18 / United Kingdom

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Every city in the UK has its own character, from its people and its architecture to what it’s like to drive around them. For partner drivers, getting to know the character of a city’s roads, is an important part of making sure riders get where they need to be on time.

City Driving Tips

Knowledge of your city’s streets comes with time and experience, but, to give you a head start, we’ve written up some general city driving advice, some driving in London tips and tips on how to navigate around the UK’s other major cities.

Driving in London and other cities

Mind the Gap

Cities often have more hazards you need to be aware of when driving – brakes are slammed on, car doors opened, pedestrians step into the street and cyclists and motorcyclists are common. To drive safer, the best driving in traffic tip is to make sure you’re paying attention to your distance.

A good rule of thumb is that there should always be two seconds distance, or two road chevrons, between you and the vehicles both in front and behind. The faster you go, the larger the gap will be.

Plan Some Routes in Advance

If you’re new to a city or to being a partner-driver, it’s a good idea to plan out some of your more frequently used routes ahead of time if possible and to have a backup route in case of accidents or construction. 
Obviously, you can’t pre-plan every route, but in a city like London, with its five major airports, the chances are you’ll be taking riders to the airport a fair amount, for example. Knowing the best ways or roads to avoid when getting to each airport can save you some headaches in the long run.

Non-Vehicle Road Users

One thing that is unique to driving in the city is the volume of other road users who aren’t driving a car. Pedal bikes, mopeds, motorised scooters, and even mobility scooters have all seen a significant rise in use in city centres over the past few years.

When you’re driving in the city, you need to keep an eye on other non-vehicle road users, such as cyclists and mobility scooters, and treat them with respect and caution. To find out more about driving in cities, cycle lanes and to see how we’re helping to make cycling safer in UK, visit our dedicated Safety Resources page.

Driving in London and other cities

Tips for Driving in Specific Cities

London

  • Congestion Charge – Drivers in London have to pay the Congestion Charge for driving in certain parts of central London. The area stretches from Marylebone across to Shoreditch and down to Elephant and Castle and Victoria and operates between 07:00 5and 18:00, Monday to Friday – you can find a map here.
    • Exceptions to this are weekends and public holidays
  • Ultra-Low Emission Zone – Brought into effect in April 2019, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is a charge applied to regular vehicles travelling in central London. The ULEZ is active in the same area as the Congestion Charge but it is in effect 24 hours a day. Drivers must pay the charge if their vehicle doesn’t meet the ULEZ minimum emission standards.
  • Red Routes – There is strictly no stopping in areas marked with either double red lines or by a blue circular sign with a red cross running through it. These “red routes” operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Yellow Boxes – If you see a yellow box at a junction, don’t be tempted to pull out until you’re absolutely sure your exit is clear. Drivers found stopped in a yellow hatched box will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

Birmingham

  • Trams – Birmingham city centre is famous for its trams. If you’ve not driven in an area with trams before, here is a quick reminder of the basic rules:
    • You cannot enter a road, lane or any other route reserved for trams
    • There are road signs/markings to follow to allow you to pass a stopped tram
    • You must not drive between a tram and the left-hand curb, as that is where passengers will be boarding from
    • Trams always have priority

Edinburgh

  • Winter Driving –  In the winter, the temperature in Edinburgh can drop as low as -15°C, so it’s important to take the proper precautions for cold weather driving:
    • Watch out for the presence of black ice that has formed on sheltered roads
    • Keep a can of de-icer in the car at all times
    • Leave extra space between you and other vehicles to compensate for increased breaking time
  • Cyclists – Edinburgh has a reputation for being very cycle-friendly, so keep a close eye on your mirrors and blind spots and make sure not to drift into one of the city’s many bike lanes.
  • Practice Your Hill Starts –  Edinburgh’s geography means you’ll spend a lot of time starting and stopping on an incline, so it’s best to make sure you’re hill starts are up to scratch.
Driving in London and other cities

Once you’ve made use of our tips for driving in London and city driving, and gotten used to your town, you’ll be driving like you’ve known its streets your whole life.