Friday, June 24, 2011

Cycle to the Olympics

While Britain's olympic cyclists are truly world-class, the same cannot be said of our olympic cycle routes so far, with no route serving the Wimbledon tennis venue. Will things change with the unveiling of the circular Jubilee Greenway route from Buckingham Palace to the Olympic venues?

Now the usual meaning of 'greenway' is an off-road, or at least segregated route suitable for less 'confident' cyclists. That would be far too boring - which is why the Jubilee Greenway takes in some more entertaining sections like Lambeth Bridge, where there are busy roundabouts on both sides and a cycle lane the width of a cigarette paper, and Parliament Square, where you can weave in and out of three lanes of traffic. Freewheeler also points out that the route heading west from Becton terminates at the High Street, Stratford (due to Crossrail works) before it gets to the Olympic site.

Don't worry about feeling lonely either - on the Regent's Canal towpath, you can look forward to pleasant chats with pedestrians as you slowly - very slowly - squeeze past them.

The other miraculous thing about this world-class cycling route is you won't have noticed any roadworks going on during its construction. That's because they haven't built anything. In the words of Jim Walker, director of the Jubilee Walkway Trust, "We have worked out there is already a route you can follow - it's not something we have had to build." Awesome.

Of course, there aren't any connecting 'green' routes to the west or south of London. We do have a couple of Cycle Superhighways, of course, and they'll be great for getting to events - during commuting hours only of course. After 10AM they'll be full of parked cars, so we'll just have to get up early.

Now remember that ALL spectators are supposed to be getting to the Olympic venues by public transport, walking or cycling. Public transport will be a tad busy, one would suspect, so to cater for people who don't fancy the sardine-can experience of  a non-air-conditioned tube train in midsummer, you would think the 2012 organizers would have used the momentum of the Olympics to build some decent quality cycle paths that would serve as a great legacy after the medals have been won. So they built the Velodrome. That's a cycle path - what more did you expect?

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