October 7th, 2011

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.