Cabbie Games Lanes protest brings central London to a standstill
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
July 17 - Cab drivers staged a protest this afternoon against not being allowed to use London's controversial Olympic Games Lanes, bringing roads in the centre of the city to a halt.
The cabbies blocked roads at Parliament Square, causing mayhem for other motorists in the area.
They were angry at not being able to use the Olympic Route Network (ORN), which are for officials, athletes and other accredited personnel only.
The protest took place just round the corner from where the beach volleyball will be played during the Olympics at Horse Guards Parade.
Taxi drivers blared their horns, bringing a deadlock stretching to Whitehall and Millbank, adjacent to Parliament Square.
"There will be no access to these Lanes for any traffic apart from the Olympics family," said Jonathan Myers of the United Cabbies union.
"Taxis are excluded, which is unacceptable and wrong.
"This is a working city and we need to get around and do our job."
Taxi drivers claim they will not be able to carry out their usual services as a result of not being able to use the Lanes.
A 109 mile ORN has been created for the Games, just under a third of which are designated Games Lanes.
Transport for London (TfL) has stressed previously that this is less than one per cent of the capital's entire road network.
Motorists using the lanes can be fined £130 (€167/$202).
Two more strikes are planned by taxi drivers next week, including one on the day of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics.
John Mason, TfL's director of taxi and private hire hit back at the protestors, saying: "We have worked tirelessly with groups that represent the majority of hard working taxi drivers to provide cabbies with as much access to the lanes as possible.
"Through dialogue which started in 2009, TfL has secured concessions specifically for taxi drivers, including the use of turns along the Olympic Route Network that were initially banned for all traffic except buses, as well as access to a number of kerbside Games Lanes to pick up passengers.
"We have informed taxi drivers that any such demonstration is completely irresponsible and would only disrupt the travelling public – the very people taxi drivers are supposed to serve.
"We strongly urge taxi drivers to ignore calls to join these unnecessary protests and instead show why they are regularly voted the best in the world."
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