Fleet operators are being urged to prepare now for major disruption during the London Olympics in 2012.
However, the impact will not only be felt by fleets operating within the capital where the majority of sporting venues are located.
Traffic restrictions will also be in place on route to other Olympic venues around the UK, such as Weymouth and Portland.
“The 2012 Games offer fantastic opportunities for London and its business community,” said Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). “But there will be inevitable pressures on the transport system.
“It is crucial that all companies are aware of any potential impacts on their own firm. Affected businesses will need to think ahead and should start considering plans as early as possible.
“This might include implementing travel plans or flexible working for employees, reducing non-essential journeys and making adjustments to delivery schedules to ensure they can remain open for business as normal.”
In order to enable key participants, such as athletes and officials, to travel safely, securely and efficiently between venues and their accommodation, an Olympic Route Network (ORN) and Paralympic Route Network (PRN) have been devised by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).
These will feature temporary controlled traffic measures, including: changes to traffic signal timings; temporary restricted turns where necessary; side road closures to general traffic; temporary suspension of parking and waiting bays; and temporary Olympic Lanes.
The London Congestion Charge and the Low Emission Zone will remain in place and speed limits will be unchanged, and although vehicles will still be able to travel on the Olympic and Paralympic Networks there will be restrictions from 6am to midnight.
As a result, businesses may have to change delivery times and re-work schedules, according to David Silvey, road freight interface manager at the ODA.
“They may have to look at doing deliveries between midnight and 6am,” he said. “But there are laws around night time deliveries, so we are working out how best we can make deliveries late at night quietly.”
However, the ORN and PRN will only operate temporary traffic measures when necessary. This will be determined by demand, location and competition schedule. Standard traffic measures will be resumed when they are not required.
During the Paralympic Games, the PRN will operate on a smaller scale and once they are concluded, regular traffic measures will resume.
But Silvey warned that the disruption would actually begin several weeks before the Olympic Games, which runs from July 28 to August 12, and the Paralympic Games, which takes place from August 30 to September 9.
“There will be major disruption from the beginning of June, starting with the Queen’s Jubilee, and there will be a number of cultural events leading up to the Games on July 27,” said Silvey.
The London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006 allows the ODA to set the level of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for certain offences contravening traffic regulation orders made for the Games on the ORN or PRN.
Its proposed approach is that there should be a single penalty of £200 for all contraventions with a 50% discount for prompt payment, whether on or off the ORN or PRN.
PCNs will be issued by London boroughs and Silvey said that he is currently negotiating with them about how they are administered.
More CCTV cameras will also be installed for the Games to help enforce traffic regulations alongside mobile enforcement teams, but they will be removed afterwards.
One London-based fleet operator said: "I will be looking at how to communicate these changes to drivers. Getting them to be aware and plan for the event is vital. Letting them know of road closures and penalty charges will be vital as we have never seen the likes of this before and are unlikely to again.”
Silvey will be making a presentation on business mobility during the Olympics at the ACFO Conference and AGM on Tuesday, May 17.
Fleet operators should visit www.london2012.com/olympic-route-network for more information.