Getting around London is bound to become trickier from this weekend, when thousands of athletes arrive for the Olympics, and further disruption is expected a week later as the torch relay enters the British capital.
Commuters and businesses, already used to congestion on the city’s narrow streets, were warned by London’s public transport authority yesterday to plan ahead to avoid getting caught up in travel hotspots.
Although the opening ceremony is not until July 27, large numbers of athletes, officials and the world’s media are due to arrive this weekend to coincide with the opening of the Olympic Village in east London on Monday.
“This will lead to a significant increase in the number of vehicles on the roads in central London, around the Olympic Route Network (ORN) and Games venues,” Transport for London (TfL) said in a statement.
It advised motorists to avoid driving in these areas from the middle of this month.
About 48km of specially designated Games Lanes will be reserved to whisk the 82,000 members of the “Olympic family” to stadiums on time.
The Olympic rings and white lines have begun to be painted on these lanes, though they will not come into operation until July 25.
However, Games Lanes on the M4, the main route between Heathrow airport and the center of London, will come into operation on Monday, July 16.
Transport bosses hope that structural repairs to a crack on an M4 bridge will be completed shortly.
Work to adjust the 1,300 traffic lights on the larger 165km ORN has also started.
The Olympic torch relay, which has attracted more than four million people on its tour of the country, begins its week-long journey through the city on July 21.
Experience from other host cities shows that people often adopt a “wait and see” approach during the first few days of the Games, TfL said.
“Don’t get caught out,” it added.