Sunday 12 August 2012

The Olympic cycling legacy: it's crap

 (Above) Exciting new infrastructure in the Lea Valley close to the Olympic Park.

 In a nutshell, this is what the Olympics amounted to as far as ordinary cycling is concerned.

 1. The pre-Olympics cycling pledges were broken and the Greenways were never built


(Above) The map shows three proposed Olympic Greenways in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. One already existed in the form of the Lea Valley towpath, which was of course subsequently closed to cyclists and pedestrians at the point where it reached the Olympic Park. The other two, which also incorporated some existing routes, were not built.

(Below) The start of one section of a proposed Olympic Greenway which was never constructed, linking the Green Man roundabout with Snaresbrook Road.

2. The opening night of the Olympics saw the greatest mass arrest of cyclists in British history by a police force which is institutionally anti-cyclist and which has long incubated petrolhead police

Copyright The Press Association

3. With symbolism at its most bleak and brutal a young London commuter cyclist was crushed to death beside the Olympic Park on the sixth day of the Olympics, killed by an official Games vehicle transporting corporate journalists 

This appears to have been a classic instance of a left-turning heavy vehicle colliding with a cyclist who was going straight ahead. The fatality occurred at a site which the London Cycling Campaign over an eight year period had been warning was dangerous for cyclists.

What’s more
I have established that “advance stop lines” – the cyclists’ only boxes at traffic lights – were removed from the junction at the intersection of Eastway, Ruckholt Road and the A12 west-bound slip road to give priority to Olympics VIP buses and cars 10 days before the fatal crash.


4. Some sports cyclists won medals, including individuals who have no ethical objections to being sponsored by BP or BMW. And another sports cyclist famously shared his thoughts on cycling safety

(One cycling blogger asked their local council for a breakdown of expenditure on infrastructure for everyday cycling and expenditure on sports cycling; the answer is interesting.)

5. The Mayor of London announced RideLondon: 

Capitalising on the popularity of Britain's two-wheel Olympic triumphs, an annual festival of cycling is to be held in London – including a mass road race to rival the marathon. 

Hugh Brasher, race director for the London marathon and part of the team organising RideLondon, said he believed it would become as big a fixture as the running equivalent, and could continue to inspire cycling after the Olympics. He said he hoped it would "encourage people to get fit, cycle and start commuting into London by bike".

Well it might do. But we know that once you have “encouraged” people to try cycling a phenomenon called “churn” occurs. The majority do not enjoy the experience and give up.

 although many people have taken up cycling in the past decade, a similar number have stopped cycling. 

Sometimes even hardened and experienced vehicular cyclists give up:

Sad to say I have all but given up commuting into London now. It can hardly be described as a pleasant experience and there is no meaningful support from the police. 

But not everyone feels like this.

Trott said she felt safe cycling in London, but added that more cycle lanes should be created. 

Yeah, right. This brilliant cycle lane in Leyton, which runs close to the eastern perimeter of the Olympic Park, is just the thing to get the masses cycling, no?

And all you cheery optimists who cling to the fervent hope that Boris will one day implement his ‘Go Dutch’ commitment, do please pay close attention to this remark:

Johnson said that substantial sums were being spent to make the streets safer for cyclists but said he did not want to "bully" motorists by changing roads, and that there had to be compromises made. 

I was going to say more about RideLondon but the Vole has already said it

(Below) Recommended cycling route to the Olympics, along National Cycle Network route 1, at a point where you can see the Olympic Park. Photographed two days ago.