Posted: Jul 27, 2012 9:33 AM by Jane Brannen, Asbury University
Updated: Jul 27, 2012 9:53 AM
As Olympic event-goers flood into London for the 2012 games, a sense of characteristic British calm prevails despite the chaos. The British Department for Transport expects around 660,000 international visitors for the Olympics alone and up to 1 million extra visitors overall per day.
To get ready for the influx, the Olympic Delivery Authority and London officials prepared a transport plan years in advance. The Olympic traffic won't be in full gear until tonight's Opening Ceremonies, but the plan has already begun to help managing traffic.
Magenta signs all across the city direct spectators and residents alike to Olympic sites, and Transport for London's "Get Ahead of the Games" campaign provides information on avoiding traffic and traveling safely.
On Wednesday, the Olympic Route Network, a system of reserved roads, went into effect. Its 109 miles connect all of the Olympic venues to ensure that athletes, officials and members of the media can travel easily between Olympic sites.
Another key piece of the transport plan is the Stratford district, dubbed the "gateway to the Games." The area leads straight to the Olympic Park, and according to Transport for London, it can handle around 240,000 people per hour.
Monday and Tuesday's Opening Ceremonies rehearsals put Stratford to the test when 60,000 ticket-holders added to the area's usual traffic. Things appeared smooth as spectators funneled through. Employees in magenta Olympic attire used large foam fingers to point them in the right direction, and the crowd remained calm and orderly.
Ticket-holder Graham Latham from Banstead, England, commented on the remarkable sense of calm. "Everyone seems pretty orderly," Latham said. "No one's hot-headed."
The Stratford district will face an even larger influx of visitors during tonight's Opening Ceremonies, but as the kick-off to the games approaches, Transport for London Commissioner Peter Hendy remains optimistic about London's preparedness. He released a statement to that effect earlier today.
"London is very experienced at hosting major events," Hendy said. "We are well prepared and ready."