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Olympic legacies to urban cycling

The Olympics roadshow left Sydney in 2000, and cyclists living around Homebush Bay found an enormous bikefield, linking their neighbourhoods, to neighbourhoods flanking all sides of the former Olympic precinct. The legacy of the 2012 Olympics for people in N.E. London, has the potential to be better again.
By Papal decree (well, Boris Johnson does look like the Pope), most of London's Olympic precinct cannot be accessed by cars, and will be largely protected from them in perpetuity, even when tracts are sold off, after the olympics, for residential development. Thank you Pope Boris. Some of my readers thought I was barmy when I flagged the idea of separatist zones.
Most of the bike routes on the site will line the handful of barge canals, exhumed when clearing the site. Bridges crossing those canals are being made high enough for the bike paths to pass under. These paths, and paths following bridges, and paths traversing the site, converge and split like streaks of hot wax in a lava lamp, that is, in a way best appreciated at bicycling speed. Now if I lived in London, I would be looking for shops, schools and housing, in that vicinity. Ideally, I would find a job out there too—does England still have those?

I am very keen to hear Londoners' opinions about this. Already Joe Dunkley (who I follow on Twitter) has alerted me to a swathe of nagging descent, here, here and here. However, I'm not so much concerned with poor implementation, but with the actual plan. I'm an architect. I'm used to great plans not being executed as originally drawn. 


Oct. 12th, 2011 06:29 pm (UTC)
The biggest issue most cyclists have with the Olympic Park legacy is that it will not provide a replacement for the Eastway cycle circuit. London used to have a (relatively) central circuit where anyone, including children, could learn to ride or race their road or mountain bike in safety. That site has been built on and despite promises made it is not to be replaced with an equivalent facility. Regardless of how 'accessible' the games site will be to cyclists after the games (but not during the games...), cycling facilities in London will be worse off than before the games bid*. Well done LOCOG!

* the velodrome doesn't count as that was already planned for and had approval and funding prior to the games bid.
Oct. 12th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
I wonder if this is a fair assessment: a relatively small number of intrepid cyclists will have less amenity after the Olympics, because planners were blind to their concerns. Meanwhile, lots of novices are likely to use the new facilities. Experienced cyclists will see the new facilities as a poor substitute, because they won't provide opportunities for road racing or bunch rides. So yet again, a perception of the good life, that has people using mechanical means to reach reclaimed areas, where they will then go for a leisurely stroll or wobbly bike ride, has buggered up cycling for those who are committed to it.
Two answers: keen cyclists adjust to pedestrians and wobbly riders who get in their way, and take their fast rides out of town; or, better still, design professionals who are keen cyclists themselves, should challenge those kids-with-balloons visions, held by old guys in suits.

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