Managing Traffic During the Tokyo Olympics in 2020

Tokyo tries to unload the roads around venues during the Olympics in 2020

A traffic moving through Tokyo at night

As the Tokyo Olympics of 2020 approaching Japanese Governments takes additional steps to ensure safe and comfortable commute for everyone during the event. The main concerns have to do with the heavy traffic due to the increased number of visitors and the tourism boom, where Tokyo as the main destination. Japan has already considered several options to deal with these issues. There was a suggestion to consider daylight savings, which would influence the commute peak hours. There were also trials of autonomous taxis that would circulate between stadiums and athlete villages. But the issue persists and there are some other measures in place to handle them.

Signs and pictograms

Started in 2017, the movement to introduce English translations for road sign has now entered the phase of standardization. Some of the most used signs like “Slow” or “Stop” will get the approved design across the country and inscriptions that would help foreigners to make sense of locations, e.g. adding “Ave” inscription to street names alongside their Japanese transliteration of “douri”, etc. Hopefully, this navigation improvements will help cars to move through the areas quicker.

Beside road signs, the widely used pictograms that were introduced during the Olympics in 1964 also got new designs. These include wireless networks, battery-charging stations, ATMs that work with cards issued outside Japan, etc. Some of them were changed to meet international standards. For example, the sign indicating the parking lot or baby care rooms.

Bi-lingual taxi drivers, internationally recognized signs, and parking lot reservation systems are supposed to address the heavy traffic issues during the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Foreigners as taxi drivers

To cope with the number of tourists taxi companies want to introduce more cabs to the roads. However, due to the shortage of the labor force on the Japanese market, companies have decided to put foreign drivers behind the wheel. It is still an exception to meet a non-Japanese taxi driver in Japan. However, foreigners who speak both English and Japanese are though after to assist foreign guests. But first, they must go through a rigorous training process to meet the high standards of Japanese hospitality known as omotenashi.

Traffic jams and parking lots

Earlier this week, the Tokyo Games Organizing Committee tested the idea of making coin-operated parking lots available only for reservation as one of the measures to handle the traffic during the Olympics and Paralympics. There are about eight million commuters in Tokyo wards alone, not taking into account the tourists expected for the events.

It is not rare that the traffic jams result from the drivers roaming around in search of the vacant parking lots. The government wants to make each parking lot available for one vehicle per day through the reservation system and restrict other vehicles without such registration to drive on the roads near the venues to unload the traffic.

The tests were held during the annual firework show near the New National Stadium and used 12 parking areas in its vicinity to check the effectiveness of the suggested system. There were signs at the entrance of the parking area notifying the guests that the slots are reservation-only. The outcomes are not yet clear, but the government also wants to use the results to find out how to better notify the cars that come without reservations and guide them out.

There will be more tests like this during the autumn at different venues.

"Otsumami" - a bite size snack:

Using public transportation during the event might be a better option to avoid traffic jams.

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