June 20 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The controversial 30 miles of Games Lanes for Olympic-only traffic come into operation today.
Any ‘ordinary’ motorists going into the lanes face fines of £130, while release fees for impounded vehicles could be £200.
The lanes run alongside existing lanes in London and will be used by authorised ‘Olympic Family’ vehicles.
These include vehicles used by athletes, Olympic officials and VIPs.
It is expected 1,300 vehicles an hour will use the lanes.
Most lanes will stay in place from 6am to midnight on each day up to August 14 and will form part of a 109-mile Olympic Route Network (ORN) around London.
In recent days, teams of engineers have been working to put up signs and change some road layouts in preparation for the implementation of the ORN and the lanes.
During the period of the lanes being operational, some turns have been banned, some bus lanes suspended, some bus and coach stops have been adjusted and some pedestrian crossings will not be operational.
Games Lanes will generally be on the off-side (outside) lane. Cyclists will be able to use the near-side (kerbside) games lanes but not the off-side ones, while motorcyclists will be able to use some of the near-side lanes.
But taxis and private hire vehicles will not be able to use the lanes, nor will buses be allowed in most lanes. The Games Lanes will also be out of bounds to disabled drivers who are Blue Badge holders.
Taxi drivers took to Tower Bridge on Monday to protest against their exclusion from the lanes and more protests are planned across London today.
Transport for London (TfL) is urging drivers to avoid London from now until the end of the Games.
London mayor Boris Johnson said: “With just days until the opening ceremony, London is more prepared for the Games than any other Olympic city has ever been. The ORN is a requirement of all host cities, ensuring athletes and officials get to their events on time.
“We’ve already slashed its length by one third compared to what was originally planned and we are introducing these changes to the road network as late as possible, to minimise the impact on Londoners and businesses.
“We will also operate the games lanes flexibly so that if demand from the official Olympic vehicles is low, we will open up the Games Lanes to all traffic.”