London cabbies shut down roads to protest Olympic lane restrictions

Greg Wyshynski

The Olympic Games Lanes will take up around 30 miles of designated road lanes around London beginning next Wednesday, reserved for Olympic competitors, officials and sponsors in their vehicles. Cab drivers, save for a few exceptions, are not allowed to use them.

On Tuesday, those cabbies made their feelings known about the restrictions — about 200 of them clogged traffic around Parliament Square around 2 p.m. and blared their horns in protest of the ban.

[ Photos: London cabbies protest Olympics lane ]

Here's an ITV video of the protest; did that last mini-van cab have a fare in the back? (Poor tourists.) Here's another clip from the early stages of the protest.

From Shekhar Bhatia of the Evening Standard:

Taxi drivers brought Westminster to a standstill this afternoon in an Olympic protest. Hundreds of black cab drivers parked in around Parliament Square honking their horns. Police stood by helpless as buses and other vehicles jostled for spaces to scramble through.

The drivers said they were angered at being banned from driving in Olympic Lanes.

One said: "The lanes are pathetic and will harm us and other motorists. …We reckon our income will go down around 40 per cent during the games because people are being pushed onto public transport.

"There has been little consideration for the hard working black cab drivers who should be part and parcel of the Olympics."

According to John Mason, Director of London Taxi and Private Hire, the cab drivers have been considered.

"Transport for London 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 curbside Games lanes to pick up passengers," he said in a statement.

[ Related: Olympic bus driver gets lost in London traffic for hours ]

"We have informed taxi drivers that any such demonstration is completely irresponsible and would only disrupt the traveling public — the very people taxi drivers are supposed to serve."

Black cabs are allowed to use the recently opened Olympic Games Lane on the M4, the motorway leading from Heathrow Airport. What happens if another cab or car uses these lanes, or any Olympic Games Lanes in London? Motorists will face a £130 ($203 USD) fine for entering them.

At least in theory. According to the BBC, no one's exactly sure which agency will administer the fines. So, just, you know, don't use them, OK? Scout's honor …

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