Assembly’s John Biggs accuses IOC of ‘extortion’ over Olympics road lanes

07:58 25 July 2012

Olympic lane... forbidden view from drivers

Olympic lane... forbidden view from drivers' seat 6am-Midnight each day

Archant

London Assembly Member John Biggs has accused City Hall of giving in to IOC “extortion” over the controversial Olympic reserved lanes which he says will mean road chaos and isolating the whole of Wapping for the next two weeks.

He has called on TfL to ease up on traffic restrictions, predicting widespread chaos when they come into force at 6am each day from tomorrow (Weds).

But TfL insists the lanes are a requirement of any host city contract with the IOC to stage the Games. They are reserved for athletes, officials and the world’s media.

Mr Biggs, who represents east London on the Assembly, believes City Hall should have stood its ground.

He told the Advertiser: “These lanes are just for the men in blazers—the ‘Blazer’azzi’ swanning around in chauffer-driven limmos to and from their paid-for hotels.

“Serious athletes will get to venues hours before if they aren’t staying in the Olympics Park village.

“The men in blazers don’t need their own lanes up to midnight anyway, just to rush away from events. They should put up with the traffic and enjoy the experience of London life.

“It’s what we called ‘extortion’ in the old days.”

Wapping is one of the worst areas affected by the Olympic lanes painted along The Highway between Tower Hill and Limehouse.

It means drivers can’t turn right from or into side turnings. Motorists and deliveries face up to three-mile detours to Tower Hill or Limehouse to turn round.

Five pedestrian crossings have been removed, leaving just seven over the stretch along the busy A1203, with buses also being diverted.

But TfL’s Mark Evers said: “The lanes are in place to make sure athletes and officials get to events on time.

“TfL recognises the impact of the Olympic lanes on Wapping is particularly significant. That is why we have made sure there is access across and onto the Olympic network. We also informed the public of the safe crossing points.”

John Biggs accused the IOC of making “too many unreasonable demands” which were not related to the Olympics.

London should have stood firm, he added, because the IOC “can’t take away the Games now!”

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