Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Olympic 'Zil' lanes are indefensible

Where's the car lane?
Today sees the start of enforcement in London of 30 miles of Olympic road lanes, banning residents and commuters from sections of city roads in favour of official Games vehicles.

The lanes - nicknamed 'Zil' lanes after the sections of Moscow roads only for vehicles carrying officials of the old Soviet Union - form part of a wider 109-mile Olympic road network, giving the fleet of Games coaches and BMWs priority by phasing traffic lights and suspending parking bays and pedestrian crossings.

Penalties of £130 will be issued to unauthorised vehicles who drive in the Games lanes when they are in operation.

In the Evening Standard recently, London Mayor Boris Johnson said that providing exclusive use of sections of London's roads for athletes, Games officials and the media is necessary so that they can "get to their events on time".

But the question has to be asked; what about the requirement placed on the rest of us to get to work on time?

We all have to plan ahead to ensure we reach work when expected, allowing for any likely transport delays. It's indefensible to argue that those involved in the Games can't do the same.

After all, who should really have priority? Participants in a sports event or people trying to keep their bosses happy, hold on to their jobs and earn a living in tough times for their families?

Given most athletes will be living in the Olympic Village next to the venues for their events, the reality is that the vast majority of users of these lanes will be ridiculously self-important International Olympic Committee grandees wishing to be treated like heads of state, technical officials on their way to measure some javelins and sports reporters who can either plan ahead or their employer can ensure other staff are available to get the coverage they need. None of whom are anywhere near important enough to warrant having huge sections of London's roads for their private use.

The commandeering of road lanes is an insult to a host city, will build local resentment and tarnish the Olympic image daily. Even in their own interest, the IOC should drop this requirement from the hosting rules for future Games.

Here in London, the Olympic 'Zil' lanes deserve to be ignored; if not by our Mayor, then by residents en masse.

No comments: