Special road lanes open today, with cabbies fearing the worst. "If I go into a bus lane, I'll get fined 100 pounds ($155). If I go into an Olympic lane I'll get fined 130 pounds ($200). If I turn right where I'm not supposed to, it's 60 pounds ($93)," said Rahmid Mohamed, slamming on his brakes to avoid a cabbie who swerved in front of him.
London is expecting 1 million visitors a day during the games and up to 3 million extra journeys each day on an already beleaguered transit system. Having spent $10 billion upgrading London's network, organizers need that investment to pay off or risk spoiling the experience for tourists — and grumpy locals.
The British government is deploying another 1,200 troops to protect Olympic venues. There's no indication that the step was taken as a result of any specific threat. British troops stepped in earlier this month after the private security company hired to protect the games failed to hire the number of guards it promised.
Cracked by heat
Tuesday was the hottest day of the year in Britain; 85.5 degrees was recorded near Gatwick Airport. Pavement outside Olympic Stadium was melting, and crews were out to repair cracks before the foot traffic arrives. One worker quipped that if anyone arrived in heels, there would be problems
More signs Tuesday that London's transit system is feeling the strain, but it's all quite good-natured — at least for now. At St. Pancras International station, the launching point for the high-speed Javelin train that takes visitors to the Olympic Park gates, more than 100 people couldn't get onto the platform. Eventually, they got on to two trains but neither was going anywhere. Confused passengers flip-flopped trains, hoping to get lucky with one that would whisk them away, but both were delayed for at least 50 minutes, with little communication from train supervisors to explain what was happening.
Check out the very top row of the London Aquatic Center. From the main concourse, it's a staggering hike up 169 steeply pitched steps to row 62. The view isn't much, either. The entire pool is visible, in spite of the sloping roof over the temporary seats, but the swimmers look like ants in the water. Fortunately, there are video screens hanging from the ceiling.
Prince Harry's office says he will attend the women's beach volleyball event on Aug. 8 — the day the gold medal is awarded. The event is being held at Horseguard's Parade in central London near Downing Street, the prime minister's residence. Tickets for the event have been one of the most sought after in the games.
About that tower
A writer at Building Design magazine branded it "a contorted mass of entrails." The BBC said: "a catastrophic collision between two cranes." Others, though, are giving it a thumbs-up. Will the ruby red steel tower that rises above the Olympic Park — conceived as London's answer to the Eiffel Tower in Paris — win over the public? Remember this: The Eiffel Tower, one of Europe's most loved landmarks, was once loathed. It was built in the 19th century as a temporary structure for a world fair. And Parisians weren't impressed.
Traffic jams are building up across London — and the skies are pretty clogged, too. An incoming plane from Mexico circled the city repeatedly Tuesday as the pilot waited for an available runway. But it was a stroke of luck. With sunny skies, passengers enjoyed the view of London's monuments.