27th July 2012, will see the start of the Olympic Games in London. With just 2 days to the opening ceremony, the final countdown to the London 2012 Games is truly on. Hundreds of thousands of people are starting to flock to London and the UK for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Travelling around London during the Olympics becomes more difficult than ever as traffic crawls into London. To help you minimise the delays in your journeys and travel safely, we have a two part ‘dos and don’ts’ article with tips on getting around London during the Olympics.
1) It is important to plan ahead before heading to the streets to avoid being caught in heavy traffic congestion during the Games. Although seventy per cent of traffic in London will be unaffected by the Games, driving into or within the areas affected by the Games will become a hassle. To ensure that the athletes and officials get to the events punctually, the Olympic Route Network (ORN ) would be enforced during the Olympics, from 25 July to 14 August. The ORN is a network of roads linking all competition venues and other key sites, such as Heathrow Airport. After the Olympics, the Paralympic Route Network (PRN) would operate between 27 August and 9 September for the Paralympic Games. These networks would be opened to the public once they are not needed for the Games. Therefore, it would be good to find out the ORN and PRN when you drive on the London roads during the Olympics.
From 21 to 27 July 2012, some roads around London have also been affected by the Olympic Torch Relay which is taking place throughout the week before the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Roads are closed up to 2 hours before the Olympic Flame passes through the area, and only reopen when it is safe to do so.
Here is the schedule for the Olympic Torch Relay for the last 3 days so avoid driving on or close to these roads where massive traffic congestion can be expected.
Wednesday 25 July: Harrow to Haringey
Thursday 26 July: Camden to Westminster
Friday 27 July: Hampton Court to Olympic Park
In addition, a number of Olympic and Paralympic road events, including marathons, triathlons, race walks, and road cycling races will be held around London so some roads will be closed on certain times and on certain days. Therefore, do check the timings for the road events to avoid driving to the affected areas during the Olympics.
2) If you are in town to watch the London Olympic Games, do allow more time to get to the Olympic venues in order to avoid disappointment. Additional volumes on the roads and public transport are expected with thousands of people travelling to London for the Games every day. You are bound to experience delays and congestion, particularly before the start and at the end of sporting events. Use the planning tool provided on the Transport for London’s website to plan your journey and find out the extra time needed to reach your destination. If you’re leaving from our serviced residences, check with our staff for how much time you would need.
3) Since road congestion would be a big problem during the Olympics, the public transport such as the Tube, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, and the public buses would certainly be a better alternative to get around London. The Tube is the world’s largest underground rail network that stretches across the entire London. It is a fairly easy mode of transport for visitors to London. The Tube is made up of 11 lines each bearing a traditional name and a standard colour on the Tube map. For visitors travelling to East London to watch the Games at the Olympic Park, visitors can consider taking the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) which is a dedicated light rail network operating in East London. Visitors can also take the London Overground to travel around London. It is a suburban network rail service that passes through 20 of London’s 33 boroughs. Nevertheless, the public transport would get very crowded during the rush hours (07:30-10:00 and 16:30-19:00), especially during the Olympics. Therefore, leave earlier wherever you are in order to get to your destination on time.
4) If you are staying near the Olympic venues, consider walking whenever possible or rent a bike. Bicycle parking stations can be found within walking distance of events. London offers a city-wide cycle hire scheme, operated by Transport for London. Bright blue bicycles can be rented for an hourly charge at the automated docking stations around the city. Available 24 hours a day, the bikes can be hired with a credit or debit card. To return your rented bikes, always find a docking point that does not have lights on and push it firmly into the rack. Wait for the light to turn green which indicates that your bike is returned properly.
5) To better plan your journeys in London, sign up for free latest travel email alerts about the affected public transport services and roads during the Olympics. Simply go to the Transport for London website to fill in your details and you’ll get instant updates.
Check back tomorrow for part II for the dos and don’ts feature on the London Olympics!