The Olympics returns to London for a third time this summer – more than 60 years since it last hosted the Games in 1948. More than 10,000 athletes will travel to the games from around 200 countries – that’s over double the number of competitors taking part 64 years ago. What else will have changed for people coming to see the athletes compete?
Visitors to the Olympic Park will be able to eat at the world’s largest McDonalds, which will be capable of seating 15,000 people!
While the beef used at McDonalds might all be British, the chicken has been flown over from as far afield as France, Thailand and even Brazil.
In 1948 Britain was still affected by rationing so it was largely up to spectators to make their own lunch – even athletes had to pack their own food.
Just the presence of so many international visitors will be a far cry from the Olympic Games of 50 years ago.
These days international travel is more accessible than ever, so it’s no wonder that Heathrow airport predicts 500,000 visitors from outside the UK will descend on London over the course of the Games.
While the majority of people visiting the Olympics this year will come by plane, in 1948 those wealthy enough to come to London will have done so by boat.
There’s much more merchandise available today – everything from model double decker buses to stylish jewellery. However, only around 9% of the merchandise is actually made in the UK. The other 91% will have been shipped over from the likes of Turkey, the Philippines, and the host country for the last Olympic Games, China.
Back in 1948 there was no such thing as ‘official’ Olympic merchandise – anybody could make it. One of the highlights was fine silk scarves made by Jacqmars – these only travelled from as far as Manchester though!
One last difference between the two Games will be tweets. Smartphones are much more common now – in fact, Samsung, an Olympic sponsor, has travelled with the Olympic Torch around the country promoting its latest handset.
There are more ways for people to stay in touch with the Games than ever. In 1948, by contrast, most people would keep up with what was happening by radio or reading about it the next day in the newspaper.
However, the 100,000 television sets in the country could access the live coverage that the BBC transmitted using outdoor broadcasting equipment housed in a large van that drove between the Olympic venues.
Mark Cavendish proved to be on top form on Monday, leading a tight sprint finish to win the second stage of the Tour de France. With Cavendish looking to be a strong contender for the green jersey for best sprinter and teammate Bradley Wiggins as favourite to win the Tour, all eyes are on team Sky to achieve something incredible this summer.
While it’s the riders that claim the spotlight with their jaw-dropping feats of endurance and photo-finish sprints, none of their achievements would be possible without a supporting team working equally hard on the logistics preparation in the run up to and during the Tour.
Have you ever noticed a rider change bikes half way through a stage? In case anything goes wrong they have to have a spare on hand to minimise any time lost, so each rider will have at least two road bikes with them on Tour, plus one time trial bike for the sprint stages.
Considering team Sky has 9 riders for the Tour de France, that’s a minimum of 27 bikes, all of which must be stored neatly and securely in the team truck to avoid damage.
Then there’s the matter of ensuring the bikes are on hand when a rider needs to make a quick change mid-stage. For this, Sky will be using Jaguar XF Sportbrakes with customised roof racks with capacity for 9 bikes, race radios and TVs to be on hand for their riders (hopefully at the front of the peloton!).
Finally there are the two team buses, which each cost around £750,000 to buy and customise. These are designed to keep the riders comfortable and motivated on the way to the race. There are 9 seats for the riders, an office-style compartment at the back, and laptops connected to a satellite dish for each team member.
Once the riders are safely at the race with the right bikes and support staff around them, the rest is up to them. We’ll be watching with baited breath to see if Wiggins and team Sky can rise to the occasion and bring home the maillot jaune.
A father of three who got fed up with waiting for the local council to act on their primary school’s request for a zebra crossing has come up with an innovative solution of his own to keep young pedestrians safe around the area.
While Kingston council dithered over the decision to put in a zebra crossing outside Alexandra Infant School and the neighbouring St Paul’s C of E Junior School, claiming it would cost a staggering £12,000, Yannick Read was able to create his own for a much more reasonable sum of £50.
The device, which takes a minute to set up, is made of drainpipes, party balloons and lino, but according to Mr Read works just as well as the real thing when it comes to stopping traffic.
Unfortunately, not being the real thing, Mr Read is fully aware that this pop-up zebra crossing is most probably “highly illegal”.
This does not deter the inventor and father of three, however, who is happy to engage in a bit of civil disobedience to campaign for a deadly serious issue – in the past six months a child was knocked over outside the school and another at a neighbouring school was killed.
Mr Read, who works for an ethical motoring firm, is keen to share his experience with other parents and hopes to shame the council into taking action.
With a cost saving of around £11,950 on the stated cost of a proper zebra crossing, perhaps local councils should be looking into the popup model as a cost-effective way of getting safe crossings to traffic hotspots more quickly and efficiently, especially when it comes to the safety of children on the roads.
Shiply’s founder, Robert Matthams, was last night named as a winner of the Ernst & young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. The event was staged at London’s 8 Northumberland Avenue off Trafalgar Square and was hosted by BBC’s Jeremy Vine.
Judges described Robert as a young entrepreneur with a winning model that is considered the eBay of the transport sector.
The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award is widely regarded as the most prestigious business award, now covering 93% of the world’s economy and has been running for 14 years in the UK.
Upon receiving the award, Robert Matthams said: “Winning this award does mean a lot to me personally. However, I really do share it with our network of 50,000+ transport companies and 700,000+ users moving goods who both make the marketplace work and continue to strive. It is through their continued hard work and that of our own team here at Shiply which brings us the success we’ve seen over the years.”
Here’s some news that won’t come as a surprise commuters in some of the UK’s largest cities: London, Manchester and Liverpool have some of the busiest roads not just in the country, but in the whole of Europe.
However, you might still be shocked to hear just how much time we spend stuck in traffic jams on average. Figures from researcher Inrix show that last year, London drivers spent a staggering 66 hours in traffic, while Mancunians sat around for 45 hours, and in Liverpool the figure was barely better at 39 hours.
Drivers elsewhere in the UK don’t have too much to celebrate either, as it was revealed that only three European countries have worse overall congestion than the UK.
Perhaps unexpectedly, it is drivers in Belgium who waste the most amount of time stuck in traffic, where they while away an average of 55 hours a year. The Netherlands and Italy are next in line, with the UK not far behind in fourth place.
It’s not all bad news though, as Inrix also revealed that all 18 British cities analysed had less traffic in 2011 than in 2010, with the biggest improvement seen in Birmingham.
If you tend to come out in hives at the mere thought of sampling that particular brand of jam labelled ‘traffic’, you’d probably want to avoid being on the roads in London between 4pm and 5pm, which has shown to be the most congested, with journeys taking 33 per cent longer to complete on average.
As the senior vice president of Inrix pointed out, traffic congestion is a very good indicator of how the economy is going. While in a thriving economy you would expect roads to be busy with people going about their daily business, too much congestion can slow things down and hurt efficiency, as our transport providers well know!
It’s been a long week with blustery weather and bus strikes in the capital, so what better way to unwind for the weekend than dream of a country getaway royal style. Think expansive country estate, muddy land rover and pheasant shoots (…or is it grouse this time of year, we’re not sure). Accessorize with a waxed jacket, game keeper, and tot of gin and you’re good to go.
If you’re still unsure, get some inspiration from a pro:
A series of stunning new images created for a new TV show America’s transport and communication infrastructure in breath-taking detail.
The pictures were taken for PBS show ‘America Revealed’ using satellite technology, including GPS and innovations in aerial photography.
This allowed the creators of the show to reveal the different sorts of journeys taken across the US in graphic detail, with each image showing the routes of different modes of transport or infrastructure networks.
One image, for instance, shows the remarkable distance covered by one family-run combine harvesting business, while another highlights the blue grid pattern of New York’s bus services surrounded by the further-reaching commuter rail services and combined pathways ferries.
For the more morbidly inclined, there is a map of the unpublicised transportation of dead bodies, many of which seem to be being repatriated to the states they grew up in from the retirement mecca of Florida.
There is even a GPS trail detailing routes ridden by cycling pizza delivery riders on a single Friday night in Manhattan. Judging by the distances covered, we wouldn’t be surprised if they helped themselves to one of those pizzas at the end of the night.
The same aerial photography, CGI and data visualisation techniques that were used to create the BBC’s ‘Britain from Above’ were used, except ramped up to the next level (as is usually the case when home-grown exports go stateside).
Executive producer Nick Catliff had this to say: “I think the result is a series that explores and explains the vast systems that keep America running and does so on an epic scale.”
The four-part series will also be aired in the UK for those lucky enough to have a Sky or Virgin Media subscription.
We all know that you should stay with your vehicle to await assistance in the event of a break-down, but one unlucky tourist who ignored this advice learnt his lesson the hard way this weekend.
Nima Hosseini Razi, an MBA student at the University of Wales, left his broken-down car near the Houses of Parliament to visit Buckingham Palace while he waited for the AA to arrive.
Aware that his car was parked illegally, Mr Razi left a polite note to explain the situation, which read:
“Dear Sir or Madam, this car is broken. I am just waiting for the AA to arrive. Please do not fine! Thank you, yours sincerely.”
Unfortunately for him, this wasn’t enough to reassure the police, who considered the blue Ford Mondeo a security risk and promptly blew it up.
As if that weren’t enough to ruin his day, Mr Razi was also issued with a parking ticket for the offence.
The mangled car was towed away as a rather shocked looking Mr Razi looked on. We’re not sure how he got back to Wales after his ill-fated trip, but we are pretty sure that he won’t be driving into London again in a hurry!