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Olympics lanes: Your questions answered

Confused by the Olympics lanes that have popped up throughout London? We were totally baffled so we sat down, did the research and can now bring you the definitive answers to the most pertinent questions surrounding the controversial Olympic Road Network (ORN) aka the Games Lanes. Gobble it up and let us know if you have any further questions in the comments below. Don’t forget to check TfL’s Web site for further information.

London's Olympic lanes are in full effect. Don't get caught out.
London’s Olympic lanes are in full effect. Don’t get caught out.

What is the Olympic Route Network?

It’s a network of road lanes that have been commandeered to help athletes and officials get to the Olympic and then Paralympic games on time. The lanes will be located on approximately one-third of the London road network.

How can I spot an Olympic lane?

They all have a set of gigantic Olympic rings painted on them. Lanes will usually be located on the off-side (that’s the far right) of multi-lane roads, however a few near (kerb) side games lanes will also be in effect.

Can ordinary cars use the lanes?

Anyone can use the vast majority of Olympics lanes freely except during prescribed times. Most lanes will operate between 06:00 and midnight but these times are subject to change. A network of 150 electronic signs along the network will advise you when the lanes are open for public use.

How will I know if I can use the lanes?

The electronic signs will display one of two messages: “Games Lanes OPEN to general traffic: ‘All traffic use Games Lane’” or “Games Lanes CLOSED to general traffic: “Games Lane now Games Vehicles only’”. If you see the latter and your name isn’t Usain Bolt, then don’t drive in it.

What happens if I accidentally stray into an Olympics lane?

You’ll be subject to a fine of £130. The lanes will be policed by portable roadside cameras with ANPR – Automatic Number Plate Recognition – systems that can detect who belongs in the lanes and who does not.

Are cyclists and motorbikes allowed to use the Olympics lanes?

Cyclists can use the nearside lanes. Motorbikes will be allowed to use some nearside Olympics lanes that are shared with bus lanes. These will be open to motorcyclists on a ‘case by case’ basis depending on how busy the lanes prove to be. Motorcyclists are currently permitted to drive in just five bus/Olympics lanes including the A3205, A302, A3212, A202 and A3 and only in certain sections. Watch out for signs to make sure you’re not stung with a fine.

What about taxis?

Taxis are not allowed to use the lanes, much to their annoyance.

How long will the Olympics lanes be in effect?

The games lanes will operate between 25 July and 14 August. Don’t be surprised to see some lanes reverting to normal use before the final date, however. Lanes dedicated to serving events that finish early will revert to normal use as soon as possible after the events have ceased.

Then it’s back to normal?

You wish. Once the Olympics ends, the Paralympics begins and it’s back to square one. The Paralympics starts on 29th August and the lanes will come back into force until 9th September.

Can I plan my journey in advance?

You sure can. Transport for London has issued Olympics Lanes maps that can be viewed online here. They’re in PDF format so you can print them out and study them.

This is incredibly annoying

That’s putting it mildly. But it should ensure your favourite athletes get to venues on time and the awesome spectacle that is the Olympic games should run smoothly.

Image: Secretlondon123

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