London’s commuters struggled to get to grips with traffic restrictions as the first of the Olympic Games Lanes opened on the M4.
Drivers who stray into the Games Lanes, which are designed to help get athletes and officials to events on time, could face a £130 fine.
The first lane opened on the M4 as competitors began arriving in London ahead of the Games on July 27. Athletes and officials were driven from Heathrow to the Olympic village in Stratford via the Games Lane on the M4.
But many drivers on the A4 and the A40 battled to get out of the lanes on Monday morning, wrongly believing the restrictions to already be in place. These Games Lanes do not open until Wednesday next week.
Pimlico Plumbers founder Charlie Mullins believes the Games Lanes will cost London’s businesses dear, with 30% of the capital’s road network affected in some way by traffic restrictions.
Mullins said: “It doesn’t matter if you run one vehicle or hundreds, if you operate a van-based business in London you’ll be hit hard and could end up going to the wall.
“Businesses will watch their income drain away as they sit in jam after jam as the athletes and dignitaries cruise by.
“It’s very easy for them to shut the roads for the greater good of the Olympics and offer advice not to drive in Central London. It’s not so easy when you run a business that’s based on driving around the capital.
“That’s why I’m still telling my engineers to join those elite lanes when necessary, since a burst pipe pumps out 3,000 litres an hour and that’s going to cause way more damage than a 130 quid fine every time.”
Despite being promised life in the fast lane, American athlete Kerron Clement was left unimpressed with the journey from Heathrow airport to the Olympic Park.
“Um, so we’ve been lost on the road for 4hrs. Not a good first impression London,” Clement tweeted. “Athletes are sleepy, hungry and need to pee. Could we get to the Olympic Village please.”
London 2012 said some of the buses transporting athletes had taken longer than usual. This is believed to be due to drivers taking a wrong turn, although each one is equipped with a satnav.
A spokeswoman for London 2012 said: “We have successfully completed a large number of bus journeys so far today, from the airport to the village and the training venues.
“Whilst there may have been one or two journeys taking longer than planned, the vast majority were completed successfully.”
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