“Our medieval city is leading the electric vehicle revolution” and we’re revolutionising urban travel

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have announced plans for the UK’s first city centre Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ), to be introduced later this year. The proposed Zero Emissions Zone aims to help improve the air quality in Oxford to dramatically reduce the associated health risks for people living and working in the city.

The council’s proposal introduces a red zone to deter people from driving non-compliant vehicles within the city centre. The proposal details a charging scheme that will operate between 7am – 7pm, with a £10 charge for non-compliant vehicles entering the red zone. The red zone is planned to come into effect in December 2020 with a larger green zone proposed within the next two years. The proposed green zone could include a charging scheme with daily charges for both high and low emission vehicles resulting in only zero emission vehicles being exempt.

Tom Hayes, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council stated: “2020 will be a crunch year for our climate and all our futures. We face a climate emergency that threatens all our futures. For the sake of everyone in Oxford, we must clean up the lethal air we are all breathing. With our strengthened Zero Emissions Zone and the introduction of hundreds of supporting charging points, our medieval city is leading the electric vehicle revolution. Our two councils have taken a fresh look at the big idea of charging commuters to drive polluting vehicles in and out of the city centre.”

There are several solutions to combat being charged within growing low and zero emission zones, one of which is the uptake in fully electric vehicles. Often when people talk of electric vehicles they mostly think of cars; but electric motorcycles can offer unique benefits to riders. A study is found indicating cars are parked 96% of the day which is an issue for Oxford to combat.

Electric motorcycles typically offer cheaper, faster and easier commuting than their four wheeled counterparts. With the majority of cars only carrying one person and the average commute at around 10 miles it stands to reason that motorcycles should be a more popular way to travel. Many of today’s electric motorcycles are available with removable, rechargeable batteries enabling users to park with more freedom and not be tied to available charging stations.

This brings me onto one of the less talked about implications of low and zero emission charging zones, which is the impact that it can have on local infrastructure. Installing charging stations understandably takes more space but also encourages users to park for longer to get a full charge. Studies suggest that in some cities upwards of 60% of their real estate is dedicated to vehicles and parking which can only increase as populations grow and more people shift to electric cars. The best solution to combat this is to transition people to bicycles, motorcycles, public transport and ride hailing which will help free up valuable road space and reduce congestion.

During 2019 the MCIA recorded a 33% increase (1522) in motorcycles registered in Oxford county with 1441 of these being smaller capacity. The market for smaller motorcycles continues to increase with zero emission zones being introduced. Is it time for you to make riding electric?

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