OLYMPIC Games road restrictions have caused big traffic jams after they came into force this morning.

The main impact has come from the closure of the A12 slip-road at the Green Man roundabout on the border between Leytonstone and Wanstead.

There are major knock-on delays in Whipps Cross Road and Leytonstone High Road as a result, with gridlock on the roundabout itself.

In contrast, the new Olympics VIP lane on the A12 through Wanstead and Leyton towards Stratford caused some disruption during rush-hour but congestion eased greatly after 9am.

There are also reports of problems in some parts of Leyton.

The congestion was so bad that the Guardian witnessed several Olympic-branded vehicles failing to exit the slip-road this morning, forcing them to use Whipps Cross Road instead.

Motorist Kevin Whitcher, a self-employed editor of Hanbury Drive in Leytonstone, said it had taken him 20 minutes to drive 100 metres down the High Road this morning.

He said: "It's a complete joke. I've just seen an ambulance struggling to get past traffic at the roundabout and I dread to think how long it's taken to get here.

"If organisers had allowed 100 metres of the Olympic lane to be used for traffic exiting the roundabout onto the A12 then none of this would have happened.

"They need to have a complete re-think of this lunatic idea straightaway because it's not working."

Matt Keen, 38, of New Wanstead, was cycling to work at 11am.

He said: “I am on Grove Green Road and it is absolutely choc-a-bloc with traffic.

“As you come past the A12 it is solid. If it’s like this every day it is going to be a big problem because the queues are just huge.

“I have never seen it this busy at this time of day before, it’s not exactly as if we are in the middle of rush hour.”

Frustrated motorists also took to Twitter to vent their frustrations at the delays.

Alice Mathieson tweeted: “Absolute chaos at green man roundabout cos slip to A12, westbound is closed! As a result Whipps Cross Road is chocabloc both ways.”

And a motorist called Gary using the Twitter handle @nufger_se7 tweeted: “Taken me 1hr 30 mins to drive less than two miles.”

The Olympic VIP-only lane on the A12 will operate between 6am and midnight every day, while the Green Man roundabout closure is between 6am and 11am.

The restrictions, which were introduced at 6am this morning, will operate  until August 14.

They will then be reintroduced for the Paralympic Games between August 27 and September 11.

Motorists and cyclists who go into the Games lanes without proper permission could be fined £130.

Operators say there will be "some flexibility" and say the restrictions could be lifted when demand for their use is low from those involved in the Games.

The lanes, which can also be used by buses, are designed to make it easier for the 'Olympic Family' - such as organisers, athletes and media - to travel between venues.

Further restrictions include the shutting off of the Lea Interchange exits.

People living and working in New Wanstead have also reported long queues towards Wanstead High Street over the last few days.

Peter Rowe, 57, of Chestnut Drive said: “They have been doing some sort of rephrasing of traffic lights and traffic has been backing up down New Wanstead towards Wanstead High Street all week.

“I take the tube to work but if I did drive I would be avoiding the Green Man roundabout like the plague at the moment"

Jeremy Robinson, general manager of Goddard’s veterinary practice in New Wanstead, said: “Ironically yesterday, after a week of terribly slow moving traffic because of rephrasing of traffic lights where New Wanstead goes into Hollybush Hill, things seem to have speeded up.

“They have only been letting two or three cars through at a time all week.

“I’m not sure if the change was part of the Olympics, but traffic was moving at a snail’s pace until yesterday.”

And Guy Watts, who lives in New Wanstead, said: “They changed the signals and the traffic has been tailing down the road towards the High Street all week.

“I saw all the traffic at the Green Man this morning, but luckily I only touched it.

“I will be coming back towards Wanstead from Upminster this evening though and I’ll be holding my breath to see what the traffic is like.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said in a statement: "The Olympic Route Network is a requirement of all Host Cities, ensuring athletes and officials get to their events on time.

"We've already slashed its length by one third compared to what was originally planned and we are introducing these changes to the road network as late as possible, to minimise the impact on Londoners and businesses."

He added: "We will also operate the Games Lanes flexibly so that if demand from the official Olympic vehicles is low, we will open up the Games Lanes to all traffic."

Leon Daniels, TfL's Managing Director Surface Transport, said: "Our advice to road users is clear - don't get caught out.

"Avoid driving in central London, around the ORN and Games venues.

"If a journey by road is absolutely essential, plan ahead at GetAheadoftheGames.com and allow extra time".

Any vehicles caught parking in a Games lane will be removed, with the owner potentially fined a further £200.

The London 2012 Olympic Games officially start with an opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on Friday (July 27), however the first event takes place this evening.

Great Britain's women's football team will play New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff at 4pm.

Football megastar David Beckham, who grew up in Waltham Forest, has confirmed he will play a role in the opening ceremony.

Have you been affected by Olympics travel disruption? What do you think? Contact reporter Daniel Binns on 0779 547 6625 or via email at dbinns@london.newsquest.co.uk

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