Livingstone wants to extend the ken-gestion charging zone

And, because London's congestion charging scheme has so far been an unqualified success, Ken Livingstone believes the government should push for similar schemes nationwide. This would give a serious boost to the bike trade. Motorised traffic in London has been decreased by 20 percent, making it far easier and more pleasurable to cycle in the capital.
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In an interview in the Financial Times, London mayor Ken Livingtone said it was likely that the congestion charge zone would be widened by the end of next year.

The extension, to take in the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea, could be followed by a separate inner ring in the east, to take in Tower Hamlets, which would have a lower charge, Livingstone told the FT.

Livingstone also predicted that the government would now be seriously eyeing up national congestion charging schemes now that the London scheme has, so far, been such a success.

"My guess is that the government will massively accelerate their timetable for a national strategy," Livingstone said.

Congestion charging in London has worked "far better" than the doom-mongers predicted, said Transport Secretary Alistair Darling, labelled a congestion charging chicken by environmental campaigners because he made no such positive noises before the scheme was introduced on February 17th. Transport for London said traffic levels have been reduced by about 20 percent in the charging zone.

"Technically it has worked far better in London than some predicted. The people who said it would never work were wrong," Darling told a meeting at the AA HQ. One of the pre-start up critics of the congestion charging scheme is would-be London mayor, Steven Norris, chair of the National Cycling Strategy Board, a former car dealer and who said he will always put the interests of motorbike owners before the interests of cyclists.

460 000 congestion charging payments were received by Transport for London in the first week of the charge, less than had been expected. Whilst this means less cash generated (all of which has to be ploughed back into alternative transport projects, including cycle scheme) it also meant there were less cars on the road.

There were also less shoppers, but only marginally so. Market research company Footfall found that were 4 percent less shoppers inside the zone than the same week last year.

Footfall took into account the closure of the Central Line and the effect of heightened security.

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