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The Olympic Cycle Route: Does It Have the Right of Way?










Amongst the furore being caused by the proposed security plans for the 2012 Olympics, another issue has been getting just as much attention in recent weeks. Boris Jonson further exemplified his passion for biking in the capital by implementing another bi-wheel project earlier this year.

This time it’s the Cycle Superhighway scheme, a series of cycle routes designed to connect the city of London with the Olympic Park. A good idea and money well spent?

Not according to the many, it seems.

If we take what people are saying online, it seems that Mr Johnson has failed to bag the same resounding reception his established army of Boris Bikes have received. There’s little applause for the newest addition to London’s cycling map and already there have been two deaths on one of it’s East London routes, a deeply worrying and saddening statistic in light of the Games taking place in less than a year. In the wake of this terrible incident, members of the community have been quick to voice their opinions.

One of four current Cycle Superhighways that have been introduced, the one route everyone is talking about takes cyclists from Bow, in East London, to Aldgate. Yet the choice of this route has caused quite a stir. Visible only as a slither of blue paint that snakes through the bustling roads of East London, there’s been a strong reception from cyclists in the community on the designated path it takes:

‘It’s a bloody disgrace’ say Cyclists in the City.

Under which ‘Crispin’ has voiced in the comments section:

The whole cycle superhighways thing is a joke – you can’t
create a safe infrastructure for cyclists just by putting a bit of blue paint
down on some of the busiest and most dangerous roads in the city.”

Many voices seem perturbed by the hectic roads through which the cycle lane criss-crosses. Even so far back as August, London Transport Correspondent Tom Edwards reported that:

‘the London Cycling Campaign already has
concerns that Stratford High Street, in particular, isn’t cyclist-friendly’,
further voicing concerns over the ‘
number of
issues with cycle lanes and the mayor’s cycle superhighway which stops
some way short of the Olympic Park’ and the fact that the ‘cycle superhighway
stops right in the middle of the Bow roundabout’.

Interestingly enough, in the comments section under the article, a disgruntled reader promptly expressed their anger at the designated choice of the route;

As a disabled cyclist I am unable to use the Greenway due to the poor design of the gates which render it unusable for those with modified bikes or those who have to use panniers. So much for an accessible Olympic Games.”

Cyclists in the City further highlighted the negative mood, with this heated statement quoted from a Londoner:

‘If I were either the Mayor of London or Barclay’s, I would be absolutely furious, utterly livid, at what is being done to cyclists in my name. Paris has built something that says this-is-designed-for-safe-easy-cycling all over it. London’s Cycle Super Highways say this-is-designed-for-cars-and-you-cyclists-can-just-fit-in-and-try-not-to-get-killed’.

Meanwhile, the The Grumpy Cyclist delivered a similarly brutal summary of the route:

‘Each time I start a post on this subject I get worked into a frenzy of indignation that is neither good for my blood pressure or coherence. But one day I will manage it…’

However, as with most things, there are contrasting opinions on the matter, with a local member of the East London community choosing to express his delight at the beauty of the designated route and the excitement to be gained from monitoring the progress of the Olympic site as it starts to take shape:

It’s a great cycling route along the Regents and Hertford Union Canal to the Lea Valley from central London and doesn’t take long at all. What’s more you’ll get to see the construction ‘in progress’ of the venues where Chris Hoy will aim to claim gold, and where in less than a thousand days’ time the Olympic flame will be lit.”

Leon’ also defends the cycle scheme, making the point that:

Cyclists can use other routes, these are just the designated ones created solely for the Games as part of the overall cycling strategy’.

The view here is that we shouldn’t just look at the Cycle Superhighway Scheme routes as the only routes, they are merely two paths amongst myriad other cycling routes available and accessible, and there are many other ways of getting around at our disposal.

All in all, it seems the biggest concern is related to road safety. The Bow interchange and A11 roundabout are not popular with cyclists due to the fast moving traffic, combined with a cycle lane that is deemed too small. Without cutting back on the volume of traffic, many Londoners feel it’s impossible to successfully integrate a fully functioning cycle path that is both safe and compatible with motorised vehicles. Still, there are alternative routes to take instead.

Are you a cyclist in London? What do you think of the cycle routes? We’d love to hear from you.

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