An A - Z
of London

Capital Numbers

An alphabetical guide
to London


A is for 'orses
B is for Bow Bells
C is for 21st Century
D is for Dome
E is for Escalator
F is for Fog
G is for GLC
H is for History
I is for Information
J is for Jellied Eels
K is for Keeping Safe
L is for London Transport
M is for Money
N is for Nightbus
01 for London
P is for Plague
Q is for Queen
R is for Red Route
S is for Streets of London
T is for Thames
U is for Underground
V is for Villages
W is for WestEnders
X is for Charing X
Y is a Year in London
Z is for Zoo

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R

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R is for Red Route


10 reasons to abandon your car when moving to the capital


1) Nobody in London has a car. Well, nobody sane anyway.

2) Other drivers. London is full of selfish drivers who think they own the road, force themselves into tiny gaps in the traffic, pull out in front of you without signalling, park in bus lanes and use a variety of expressive hand-signals. Unfortunately in London this is the only way to drive, because careful cautious drivers never get anywhere at all.

3) Parking. Yellow lines and red routes provide rich pickings for the ever-present traffic wardens and clampers. This is because London has more cars than parking spaces. The remaining cars are doomed to drive round and round in circles looking in vain for a vacant kerbside. Attempting to buy your very own parking space can add £30 000 to the cost of your home. This is usually several times what the old banger parked in the space is worth.

4) Crime. Your car, because it has to be parked three streets away from where you live, is of constant interest to local teenagers. In the rest of the country, kind 15-year olds would offer to clean and valet your car in return for a bit of pocket money. In London however teenagers offer the reverse service, whereby they smash your car window, trash the insides, steal the radio, drive the car into some bollards, set fire to the engine and abandon your pride and joy in a distant lay-by.

5) Insurance. ďOh thatís a London postcode is it? Hang on while we double your premium.Ē

6) Public transport. Despite its many shortcomings, Londonís excellent public transport system removes the need for residents to own a car. There will be a station a short walk away from your home and your work, and buses run every 10 minutes, rather than once every alternate Thursday. However, the system would collapse if all Londonís motorists switched to public transport, which is a pity because the roads would be so much emptier and the buses would arrive on time.

7) Pedestrians. In London, pedestrians are everywhere, usually standing right in front of your car. They cross roads with a general disregard for human life, seeing no reason to wait for the red man to turn to green as long as they think thereís a two-second gap in the traffic.

8) Traffic lights. Itís possible to drive the 50 miles from Ipswich to Lowestoft without passing a single set of traffic lights, but in London you canít drive for more than 50 seconds without being stopped by a red light. Then, when the amber light appears, most motorists vent their frustration by accelerating away at great speed, scattering pedestrians, only to skid to a grinding halt yards later at the back of the queue for the next set of red lights.

9) Speed limits. Outside London drivers can regularly enjoy, and indeed exceed, a 70mph speed limit. Once inside the M25, however, a maximum of 50mph is the best that drivers can ever hope to reach. A forest of hidden speed cameras ensure that motorists live in constant fear of losing their licence, even early on a Sunday morning when the roads are otherwise empty. Itís therefore no surprise that horse-drawn carriages travelled faster than cars do today.

10) Gridlock. Londonís current traffic chaos is the fault of a road network based on a maze of unplanned medieval streets, many still with their original potholes. The jams could be eased by the wholesale demolition of homes and communities to make room for new motorways, although Hitlerís plans to extend the autobahn system in this way proved extremely unpopular. Ken Livingstoneís planned extension to the congestion charge zone should succeed only in moving the present gridlock a little bit further out of town, and in losing him the next Mayoral election.