Confusion, frustration and delays – this is what happened after London opened special lanes for Olympics traffic on Wednesday.
The 30 miles (48 kilometers) of lanes are to operate from 6am to midnight throughout the games, and cars or taxicabs that stray into them face a 130-pound fine.
The lanes are being used by authorised “Olympic Family” vehicles. These include vehicles used by athletes, Olympic officials and VIPs, with 1,300 vehicles an hour expected to use them.
Traffic jams built up at key points in central London, including at iconic Tower Bridge — a taxi driver jumped off the same bridge on Monday in a protest by cabbies after they were banned from using the lanes.
Police pulled him from the water under the landmark bridge, from which Olympic rings were suspended to celebrate the 2012 London Games, and arrested him on a public order offence.
London taxi drivers will stage another protest today as part of their campaign against being banned from using Olympic traffic lanes.
The drivers have already held two demonstrations, including one which brought traffic to a halt outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
London has long been an auto-unfriendly city, with surprisingly few highways or big boulevard-style roads to allow traffic to pass through quickly. Most roads in the city are old, narrow and peppered with pedestrian crossings, traffic lights and islands that slow drivers and often confuse tourists.