Rio de Janeiro has another problem that could make the Summer Olympics a nightmare: traffic.
Though water conditions, Zika, and infrastructure are all worries leading up to the games, according to Paul Kiernan and Benajmin Parkin of the Wall Street Journal, Olympic organisers are increasingly worried about traffic during the games.
According to WSJ, Rio has 24% fewer residents than New York City, but 51% more private vehicles. Due to a lacking public transportation system, Rio citizens often drive, creating daily bumper-to-bumper traffic.
With an increase in visitors and many of the sporting venues in different parts of the city, the traffic could become worse. In fact, according to WSJ, the traffic issues alone are already stressing out some members of the International Olympic Committee.
“Rio’s traffic woes are so serious that some members of the International Olympic Committee are regretting their decision to award the Games to the city, a person familiar with the matter said.”
As WSJ notes, Rio has tried to prepare for the issue, with $1 billion in new roads and tunnels and Olympic-designated bus lanes, but there will still be issues. For instance, while drivers who drive in the designated Olympic-lanes could face a $450 fine, public prosecutors have fought the punishments as the lanes aren’t written into federal traffic laws. Thus, it may be difficult to enforce the rules.
Similarly, as WSJ reports, while the new Line 4 subway transit system is complete, it stops eight miles short of the neighbourhood of Barra da Tijuca, where half the Athletes Village and many of the sports venues are. Assuming Line 4, which is still in testing, runs without problems, commuters will still have to catch a bus for the last eight miles, adding to the congestion.
Rio is going to be highly congested for the next several weeks, and while the city seems to be working on solutions, expect at least a few stories of athletes and visitors getting stuck in gridlock traffic to and from the games.
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