[W]ith the first Olympian week drawing to a close, with the predictability of a shortage of cabs on a wet Friday night, we have had a bumper week of motoring stories.
In a scenario straight from the script of BBC’s TwentyTwelve, on Monday two buses containing United States and Australian officials were lost for up to four hours as they made their way from Heathrow to the Olympic Park.
That was followed by confusion on the M4 as to who could (and should) use the Olympic Lanes. The ban of all vehicles except black cabs and Olympic vehicles will, apparently be ‘monitored’ by the police but in the main the authorities will rely on the goodwill of motorists to stay out of the prohibited sections – Just tell that to John Griffin at Addison Lee.
In central London in many cases the lanes, with the confusing signage, have been empty all week for fear that a £130 fine will be dropping through one’s letterbox. Again in a rare display of magnanimity an unnamed source was quoted as saying: “If we get to the end of the Games without issuing a single ticket then that will be judged a 100 per cent success, and there was me thinking the fines would fill the gap in the Games overspend.
Tuesday found black cabbies wasting their time protesting at their exclusion from the Olympic Lanes. By circling around Trafalgar Square they hoped to draw the public’s attention to their plight, the square might commemorate a battle victory, but I fear that this is one war that has been lost.
Apparently cycles have also been banned, but who will stop the rickshaws? The sight of a top of the range BMW with a member of the Olympic Family on board, queuing up behind a ropey rickshaw being peddled slowly by a foreign student should make for an interesting interlude while sitting in gridlock.
Speaking of which Tuesday evening gave TfL their finest hour, or to be precise two hours, as Madonna finished her concert in Hyde Park. She had stood on stage brandishing a gun, the precise weapon of choice many motorists must have wished they possessed as Park Lane was closed, along with West Carriage Drive and The Mall. The fare from Paddington to Chelsea Bridge which should have taken a little over 15 minutes took 1 ½ hours and had over £50 on the meter.
Passing on to Wednesday I noticed that in Russell Square one set of markings gives motorists the choice of either driving in a bus lane or an Olympic Lane – the choice of fine is up to you. An interesting diversion that night was accomplished after the Strand and Waterloo Bridge was closed, and why has the Aldwych underpass been changed from northbound to southbound?
Thursday saw the recreation of medieval London Bridge traffic chaos as Waterloo Bridge was closed southbound and Tower Bridge had been raised, it might have taken two hours to transverse old London Bridge but it was still taking half-an-hour, this could be an idea for Danny Boyle for the opening ceremony – art imitating life.
Soon I should have the answer for these conundrums and others for we have been told that the Olympic handbook detailing everything we need about the Olympics was posted on 9th July to all licensed London taxi drivers and private hire operators. But most documents have been in the post for 11 days, we can only hope that the Royal Mail vans have not been held up in traffic.