London Closed For Business During The Olympics? Get a Gold In That Most British of Sports!
We were all told how wonderful the Olympics would be for the UK, but fact is if you need to go anywhere in or around London in your car whilst the “runny jumpy” games are on, well chances are you’re going to find yourself participating in that very special sport that us Brit’s do so well and its called “queuing”.
Yep, like it or not, the capital and the main routes are going to be chokka with folk getting from, or getting to, or maybe just taking part in, some activity or another. Roads will be closed, diversions in place and places you’ve got to visit, impossible to get to and if your cars got a start/stop system, it’s going to think all of its birthdays have come at once. So in the Olympian spirit, what’s the best way to ensure you pick up a gold medal for this most British of sports “queuing”.
Part of getting the deal to be the host city, was that we agreed that we would ensure that the athletes and officials could get to events on time, so to keep London moving as much as possible, many roadwork’s have been suspended and a whole load of other restrictions put in place such as restricting stopping and loading areas and some traffic lights will have their timing altered to allow different priorities, some bus lanes will be suspended whilst some turns you usually make may not be allowed and whilst the games are on and even some pedestrian crossings will not be operational.
The major change however is the introduction of something called the “Olympic Route Network (ORN) and Paralympics Route Network (PRN) and it’s a network of roads stretching to 109 miles in total linking all of the competition venues and other key sites, such as Heathrow Airport.
Much of the ORN and PRN can be used by ordinary traffic although there will be temporary restrictions, but the real dodgy bits to look out for are the “Games Lanes” and effectively, you can only use these if you are driving an accredited games vehicle or “Olympic Family” vehicle, or on-call emergency vehicles or vehicles used by athletes, or of course, if you are Sebastian Coe or one of the other Olympic VIP’s. The “games lanes” are often going to be located on the off-side of multi-lane roads to minimise disruption and that normal traffic will still be able to use the adjacent lanes as usual. It’s anticipated these lanes will be used by around 1300 vehicles an hour
The “games lanes” will operate for around 30 miles or one third of the ORN and PRN network. They say the “games lanes” will be clearly signed and operate at specific times each day although you’re probably unlikely ever to be able to use one as the times they are off-limits to me and you seems to be from 6am – 12.00am (midnight). There will be around 150 electronic signs that tell you the hours, but you better make pretty sure you read them properly, because if you get it wrong and inadvertently stray into one of these lanes, you will be fined £130, but if your car gets impounded, the release fee could be £200.
Don’t forget as well that some roads may also be closed whilst events such as the men’s and woman’s marathons and cycling events.
So, as for your now possibly troubled journey? Well first thing is for you to avoid it if you can, or at least, don’t go anywhere near London, but if you absolutely have to, think about the conditions you are likely to encounter on your journey and prepare for it (just like you might in winter)
Sitting in a line of stationary traffic is going to make your journey longer and whilst your cars sitting ticking over, its not going to be running economically and so first thing is to check you’ve got enough gas and by that “I mean” enough gas, because if you find yourself running out on a congested motorway, well its going to cost you big bucks to get it sorted.
Take something to drink and OK, if its hot outside, yes its going to be a job to keep it cold, but perhaps try putting the can or bottle somewhere where the air-con (if you’ve got it) can chill the drink down, but either way, even a hot coke is better than no coke if you need liquid. Whilst you might fancy a drink, think of your car as well, as it might also get thirsty and begin to heat up, so apart from checking its got enough water before you start on your journey, take a bit more, just in case.
If you’ve got a sat-nav, use it and if not, take a map, because it might simply come to a point where you get that fed up with your journey, or it becomes obvious that you now cant make it on time and you want to turn around, well you need to know the best way out.
Listen to local radio, or select the traffic announcement setting on your cars audio system, so that you get the latest news about how long you’re nightmare is going to last.
Chill out as much as you can, because sitting in traffic, especially if you’ve got to be somewhere at a certain time, is hugely stressful. A good idea is to own up and call who ever it is to let them know that you’re not going to make it and who knows, they may accommodate a later arrival for you, or maybe rearrange a date (so you can turn round and go back!).
Follow all these simple instructions and you’re going to make it onto the podium and pick up your medal. Better still, unless you are going, or taking part, avoid London and avoid anywhere where anybody has anything to do with this month long intrusion into the lives of us ordinary working folk, who just want to get around.
As we write, the routes are now in use and already on the first day, there are reports of worse than normal rush hour traffic jams.