Four in 10 Londoners have switched their usual mode of transport, research suggests.

Almost one in four of London’s commuters has changed their usual mode of transport as a result of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) introduced at the start of the month, according to new research.

The ULEZ came into force on April 1 and sees vehicles that fail to meet the required emissions standard charged extra to enter the Congestion Charge zone. To avoid the £12.50 charge, diesel cars must meet the Euro 6 emissions standard introduced in September 2014 and applicable to most vehicles from September 2015, while petrol cars must meet the Euro 4 emissions standard introduced between January 2005 and January 2006.

Smoky dual exhaust pipes from starting diesel car

Speaking before the scheme was introduced, London’s Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, said the ULEZ would reduce emissions dramatically.

“London's filthy air is a public health crisis that causes thousands of premature deaths, harms lung development in children and requires urgent, bold action,” she said. “We are leading the world in delivering the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone, which is set to reduce polluting emissions by 45 percent.”

Motorcyclist and commuters crossing London Bridge during rush hour

Now, a study of 1,000 Londoners by motorcycle insurance firm Bikesure has found that 37 percent swapped their usual mode of transport for something else in the lead-up to the ULEZ’s introduction, while a further 46 percent were thinking of changing their preferred transport method.

According to the company’s research, around a third (31 percent) of commuters said the ULEZ would mean they could no longer afford to drive or ride in the Congestion Charge zone, while 32 percent said they would drive or ride in the area less often. However, some 29 percent said the ULEZ would not affect them at all.

London underground

And the study also revealed a noticeable amount of positivity around the scheme, with just eight percent of respondents deeming it a “bad idea”. In contrast, 47 percent of those questioned said they thought the ULEZ was a good thing, while 45 percent said they found the scheme frustrating but understood the reasons behind it.

Cyclists in London traffic

A spokesman for Bikesure said the survey painted an intriguing picture of the ULEZ’s effect on Londoners.

“The results that have come through from the survey are quite interesting,” he said. “Out of the 1,000 people surveyed, 82.1% have changed or thought about changing the way they travel around the city in preparation for the ULEZ. Moped and scooter riders have also been keen to switch to low-emissions versions, more so than other motorcyclists and car drivers.

“We could be seeing more low-emissions scooters, mopeds and motorcycles on the market. This could be a sign of changes happening in the industry as more, and cheaper electric and low-emission models are being introduced to the market. The next five to 10 years will be a very interesting time.”

Double decker bus in front of Big Ben London