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Congestion charge: it's important to see the big picture

PUBLISHED: 12:41 31 January 2007 | UPDATED: 14:26 07 September 2010

WE have three weeks until London s congestion charge is extended westwards and the effects are bound to be significant. Rather than a blanket-ban approach to free driving through London, the Mayor has decided to blur the boundaries and provide motorists w

WE have three weeks until London's congestion charge is extended westwards and the effects are bound to be significant.

Rather than a blanket-ban approach to free driving through London, the Mayor has decided to blur the boundaries and provide motorists with various 'free routes' from the centre out towards Paddington and Ladbroke Grove.

Naturally, people are going to scramble onto these highways to avoid the £8-a-day charge while other smaller byways will experience less traffic.

This week we have talked to people both inside and outside the new charging zone and all have their complaints. Higher traffic on the Westway and Edgware Road might discourage people to stop and shop, and being charged on the smaller roads around Westbourne Grove may again have the same effect.

Residents in areas like Maida Vale and St John's Wood may notice their neighbourhoods becoming 'rat runs' as people scurry onto the free route.

But all these complaints need to be weighed against the wider picture of trying to reduce carbon emissions and make London a cleaner, healthier place to live.

We may experience a surge in traffic along Edgware Road and the Westway, but over time this will hopefully be neutralised as people change their habits.

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