Follow for more talkers

News

Commuter so upset about new tax he protested by windsurfing to work

He donned a suit and tie, plus a safety helmet, and windsurfed barefoot from his home in Croydon, south London, to the centre of the British capital.

Published

on

By Chris Dyer via SWNS

A commuter windsurfed his way around London in protest at the cost of the new ULEZ car tax that now stretches across nearly 150 square miles of the British capital.

George Alting Von Geusau, 25, was so annoyed at the extra £12.50-a-day charge ($17 USD) for 2001 registered vehicles and older he decided to send a message to Mayor Sadiq Khan about his frustration at the rising costs of getting to work.

The videographer donned a suit and tie, plus a safety helmet, and windsurfed barefoot from his home in Croydon, south London, to the centre of the capital - gliding past Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.

Video footage posted online showed George catching a breeze and floating by bemused pedestrians as well as open-mouthed passengers at bus stops.

Some even started taking pictures and filming on their phones as George swerved in and out of obstacles along pavements, bridges and parks.

He went on the protest surf over two days, finishing on the day the ULEZ charge moved from a small area of central London to include up to the North and South Circular roads.

As of October 25, the new ‘inner London’ area is 18 times the size of the current Congestion Zone, covering 147 square miles - meaning drivers with older vehicles entering the centre of the capital have to pay both charges.

The expansion affects 3.8million people covering a quarter of London and is the largest zone of its kind in Europe, operating 24 hours a day, every day of the year - except Christmas Day.

Commuter George Alting Von Geusau windsurfed his way around London to protest the new car tax ( Alting Von Geusau via SWNS)

George, who commutes all over London to make films for clients, said he faces a bill of more than £3,750 a year to travel on top of the cost of fuel, which is also increasing.

Since the ULEZ expansion, George was forced to get rid of his 2000 reg Peugeot 306 and borrow his parents' car to move his equipment to various jobs.

He said: "This price hike seems to me that 'every journey matters,' except some. We appreciate the concern for the environment, but it appears, once again, that we are paying the cost. He [the mayor] needs to explain himself.

"When I heard about the expansion of ULEZ I was frustrated that people like me who work around London and can't afford a newer car are being punished with much higher costs.

Commuter George Alting Von Geusau was angered by London's new car tax, so he sailed to work in protest. (Alting Von Geusau via SWNS)

"For me living in Croydon, I need a vehicle for work. I have a lot of equipment to carry to jobs, so public transport isn't really practical and it is still very expensive.

"So I wanted to send a message to Sadiq Khan, asking who is going to pay for this, do we have to pay for it? We’re not outraged by the ULEZ expansion, but we want to make the point to the mayor that we’re the ones paying.

"There are a lot of people who have to drive and this punishes the majority and not the wealthy, who aren't affected. 

"Like all politicians, Mr Kahn, seems to care a lot about his public image, but does he really support the environmental concerns? It seems more like a classic self-serving political PR stunt.

"It feels like this has just been brought in without anything done to improve the rest of the city's infrastructure to make other alternatives feasible."

George Alting Von Geusau, 25, was so annoyed at the extra £12.50-a-day charge he windsurfed to work for two days. (Alting Von Geusau via SWNS).

The mayor says City Hall has provided £61 million ($83 million) in funding for grants for small businesses, charities operating minibuses and low-income and disabled Londoners to scrap their older, more polluting vehicles ahead of the new scheme.

Mr Khan also encouraged commuters to use other forms of transport, such as buses, tubes as well as walking and cycling.

But George said public transport is also expensive and would be hard for him to move his bulky video cameras, electrics and lighting.

He added: "Of course protecting the environment is fantastic but what is he [Mr Khan] doing to create other alternatives? Buses are still run on diesel and cycling is really dangerous and there are not enough bike lanes.

"He isn’t lowering the cost of the Tube. Trains are still very expensive and are running a reduced service due to the pandemic so are not very reliable either. With heavy and expensive equipment, we can’t always use public transport.

"Our message is to encourage Sadiq Khan to be more creative with his solutions, we had Boris Bikes so why not Sadiq Sails? Let's get London more ready for these changes."

The mayor's office said 87 per cent of vehicles travelling in the new zone already meet the ULEZ emissions standard.

Commuter George Alting Von Geusau windsurfing his way around London (Alting Von Geusau via SWNS)

Mr Khan said when the new scheme launched: "I pledged to be the greenest mayor London’s ever had and I am incredibly proud that expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone today will clean up London’s toxic air pollution and help tackle the global climate emergency by reducing emissions.

"In central London, the ULEZ has already helped cut toxic roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution by nearly half and led to reductions that are five times greater than the national average.

"But pollution isn’t just a central London problem, which is why expanding the ULEZ today will benefit Londoners across the whole of the city and is a crucial step in London’s green recovery from this pandemic.

"This is also about social justice - we know pollution hits the poorest Londoners, who are least likely to own a car, the hardest, which is why I’m doing everything I can to improve air quality and protect the health of all Londoners.

"I will not stand by while pollution leads to 4,000 Londoners dying early each year and our children growing up with stunted lungs.

"The expanded ULEZ is a vital step towards helping combat London’s illegal air and reducing the emissions that are harming our planet."

Stories and infographics by ‘Talker Research’ are available to download & ready to use. Stories and videos by ‘Talker News’ are managed by SWNS. To license content for editorial or commercial use and to see the full scope of SWNS content, please email licensing@swns.com or submit an inquiry via our contact form.

Top Talkers