LONDON — Wednesday marks the first day that London's usually aggressive drivers have to respect the unpopular "Games Lanes" — known informally as Zil lanes, after the Russian limos — or face a stiff fine.
There were fears of massive tie-ups as two-lane motorways were effectively cut in half to make way for the "Olympic family" vehicles allowed to use the special lanes, so many commuters seem to have switched to public transport to avoid the hassle.
On the A40 highway into central London, rush hour traffic was lighter than usual, and the Zil lane was completely empty save for a few black BMWs and a couple of truck drivers who didn't seem to have got the message.
As the road spilled onto Marylebone Road near Madame Tussauds wax museum, a large electronic sign told motorists they were free to use the Games Lanes at that point, but few ventured over the imposing double-width, solid line painted on the roadway for the Olympics period — despite the reassurances, they were apparently afraid that London's ubiquitous traffic cameras would cause them to be fined.
Eventually, as traffic slowed and a second sign said all lanes were open, drivers crossed the line and normal traffic patterns resumed.