London 2012: Who is enforcing the M4 Games Lane?
Published: 17th Jul 2012 16:21:18
A day after the M4 Olympic Games Lane came into force, no organisation has accepted responsibility for fining drivers who wrongly use it.
Drivers face a £130 fine for driving on the 3.5-mile (6km) stretch between Heston and Brentford in west London, reserved for Olympics vehicles.
Restrictions on the road maintained by the Highways Agency began on Monday.
It said police will enforce the rules, but the Met said it usually does not hand out fines.
Apart from official Olympics vehicles, only black cabs are allowed to use the M4 Games Lane.
The motorway is the only part of the 30 miles (50km) of Olympic Route Network (ORN) in London which became active as athletes began arriving at Heathrow Airport.
Most of the ORN - which falls on roads managed by Transport for London (TfL) - will come into effect from 25 July.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said the public seemed to understand the restrictions because "we didn't have to issue a single fine" on the M4.
Who polices the M4 lane has always been a problem.
When it was a bus lane no-one policed it for years until minicabs started to use it.
It looks like there's the same jurisdiction gap now it's a Games Lane.
Neither the Highways Agency, the Met nor the local authority will confirm that they are going to police the Olympics traffic only lane.
The bottom line is it seems they're relying on the goodwill of motorists to stay out.
But the BBC has contacted the Highways Agency (HA), the Metropolitan Police, TfL, Hillingdon and Hounslow councils, the Department for Transport, and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) trying to ascertain who will be monitoring the M4.
The HA stressed that it is "not an enforcement agency" and added: "There is a temporary traffic regulation order (TTRO) in force.
"We very much ask and expect drivers to obey the signs and not use the M4 Games Lane when it is operating.
"Enforcement of TTROs is a matter for the police."
But the Metropolitan Police told the BBC that although police officers "will have a role", it was the responsibility of the HA to keep traffic safely moving.
The Met said police officers deal with traffic incidents, but officers do not physically hand out fines.
A spokesman for Hounslow Council, where the M4 Games Lane falls, said it was not responsible.
"The Games' Lanes in the borough are either on Highways Agency roads (M4) or TfL roads (A30, A312, A4), so we don't have responsibility for enforcing them," he added.
A TfL spokeswoman said when Games Lane restrictions become active on its roads across the capital it will enforce them using 25 automatic number plate recognition cameras, currently used in congestion charge zones in central London, and CCTV cameras across London.
Anyone driving or illegally parking on the priority lanes will get penalty charge notices handed out by local traffic wardens or by post.
The ODA said: "The Olympic Road Network within London is being enforced on behalf of TfL by the Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Command.
"The M4 Games Lane is being delivered by the Highways Agency."
Mr Johnson said: "We are very encouraged that members of the public really seem to be getting the point because, to the best of my knowledge, we didn't have to issue a single fine yesterday - these draconian £130 fines that everybody is worried about.
"Now I am not saying that we are not going to impose them, we may well have to do that."
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. London 2012: Who is enforcing the M4 Games Lane?. [Online] (Updated 17 Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/1441056-London-2012-Who-is-enforcing-the-M4-Games-Lane [Accessed 22nd May 2013]
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