Traffic jam chaos greets athletes

ATHLETES from around the world started arriving in London yesterday ahead of the Olympics, just in time for a snarl-up caused by confusion over Olympic lanes, giving the first sign of the widely predicted chaos on the capital’s congested roads.

The immediate cause of the hold-up appeared to be the launch of the first section of road reserved for Olympic athletes and officials. One lane of the M4 linking Heathrow with the western edge of the capital was yesterday closed to all non-Olympic traffic.

This lane will form part of a 30 mile (48km) network of road lanes designed to whisk 82,000 athletes and officials through London’s streets.

Observers yesterday said that some drivers on the A4 (pictured right) believed the Olympics lane had come into force, when it hadn’t.

Critics have nicknamed the Olympic lanes “Zil lanes” after the roads reserved for the limousines of senior officials in the old Soviet Union.

London mayor Boris Johnson said the city was ready for the Games, the transport system would cope and visitors would be safe. Johnson tried to laugh off the fact that a bus transporting hurdles champion Kerron Clement got lost for four hours.

Given the problems, it may not have been the best time for London Councils, a body representing the capital’s 33 local councils, to publish the findings of a survey suggesting the majority of Londoners didn’t expect the Games to affect their work and travel arrangements.

Perhaps Ipsos Mori, the polling firm, would get different results if it conducted the survey again.

Better sporting facilities are the most-cited benefit among all age groups with the exception of 18- to 24-year-olds, who are more likely to identify increased tourism, economic benefits and better transport.

One in four Londoners say they do not see any legacy or benefit, one in 10 say they don’t know and just one per cent said there would be a negative impact from debt or the cost to the taxpayer of hosting the Games.

Taxi hire firm Addison Lee is mixing business with pleasure – or should that be little treasures – by allowing staff to care for babies while working in the office. What may seem an absurd idea is apparently an effective way of encouraging staff to return to work following <a href=""; target="_blank">maternity leave</a>. So far, eight babies have been accepted at the Euston HQ as part of the trial. According to MD Liam Griffin, each mother is assigned a buddy so when she is needed at meetings they can take over her role. As you can imagine, no worker wanted to take over nappy changing duty, so that’s down to the parents taking it in turns.