London driving

LONDON--The drivers here get it. Traffic movement is logical, well "signposted" and swift. I don't know if it is the whole driving on the left business, but there definitely are fewer traffic jams, and no one leans on their horn in anger at a driver who is doing something unfair or illegal.

What's more, it seems the daily congestion charge is working as a deterrent to driving into downtown London. Whoever it was who suggested it on Boston's City Council was borrowing a great idea. According to one local, the way it works is: Cameras photograph license all license plates coming into the congestion area (of course license plates don't fade here because they appear to be made of Lexan), and drivers have until 10 p.m. that day to pay the £5 charge or be charged a fine. They say the charge will soon go up to £8. Several people I have spoken to say it has done a great thing for downtown London. One said it reduced traffic by 20 to 25 percent. That's great.

This could work in Boston, but the difference between London and Boston is that London has a much better subway system. There's about a dozen subway lines traversing central London, and they all reach out into the suburbs. There are also several National Rail stations serving all parts of England, Scotland and Wales. The Tube is also reasonably priced, and it operates much more efficiently than the T. So, Boston does have some catching up to do in that regard.

All in all, London drivers are far better than ones in Boston. I've seen one accident, and it wasn't bad. Although I'm not fully aware of all the rules of the road, I haven't seen anyone make any gross errors. No one runs red lights, and no one creeps into the cross walks. It seems safer to be a pedestrian here than it does in Boston.


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