By Jessica Pettengill | BSU at the Games
The roads at the heart of London were some of the first things to change in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games. The Olympic Routes Network (ORN) converted lanes to allow official Olympic vehicles to navigate some of the city’s busiest streets without the worry of running into tourist traffic.
However, it looks as if the amount of expected traffic increase due to the Olympic Games might have been overestimated.
BBC News reported there has been a 19% reduction of average summer weekday traffic. This brings good news to those in the transportation industry, like coach driver Richard Walkin.
“Only just a few weeks ago it was absolute mayhem,” he said, speaking of traffic caused by construction on the M4 motorway.
The M4 is one of the main roads leading into London from the southwest. Highways Agency staff began construction on the road because of the discovery of dangerous cracks in the supports around a high traffic area.
Walkin has been driving for Astons Coaches for 24 years. He says even with the construction of the M4, Hammersmith Bridge and the installation of Olympic lanes, he is still impressed at the efficiency of Transport for London (TfL).
TfL is London’s public transportation authority. The company did a complete overhaul of the transportation system in London, specifically to accommodate the increase in pedestrians. However, they have recently been criticized for “over preparing” for the Olympic Games.
Borls Johnson, the Mayor of London, announced to Sky News reporters many of the Olympic lanes are once again open to the public because of a lack of use. In fact, it was speculated in City A.M., one of London’s business newspapers, the over-preparation caused London to become a ghost town in comparison to its past, less Olympic-filled summers.
Marion Dakers of City A.M. writes, “The city’s attempts to keep moving during the Games have frightened droves of tourists into barely venturing out of the confines of the Olympic Park.”
“I don’t know if there’s more or less [tourists], but the streets are definitely quieter,” Liz Evans said, one of almost 23,000 London Black Cab drivers.
Now TfL is doing damage control, trying to prove preparation is not a bad thing. TfL released to BBC News the London Underground reached an all-time record of 4.4 million passengers using it in one day.
“I haven’t felt like there’s more people than normal,” James Strauss said, who frequently uses the Underground but currently avoids the Olympic Games venue areas. “But then again it’s been easier to spot the tourists.”
Jessica Pettengill is a junior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jessica and the BSU team at@jmpetty10, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.