Doubtless, the 2012 athletes will be provided with excellent tracks. But will the cycle paths used to reach the Olympic path be of a decent standard? Maybe.
London had a ‘Cycle to Work Week’ c1974 and I decided to take part. Since then, I have been a regular London cyclist. It felt like pioneering to begin with but cycle usage in the capital has been increasing steadily. Official policy on cycling has also changed and now appears to be as follows:
- Appoint platoons of cycle planning officers to commission regiments of consultants on cycle planning.
- Include cyclist-friendly policies in local plans (UDPs)
- Proliferate signs to mark the London Cycle Network (LCN)
- Paint any unwanted patches of roadspace green and call them cycle routes
- Ignore routes which are popular with cyclists
- Spend as little money as possible on cycle routes
- Use traffic calming devices, known as chicanes, to kill and maim as many cyclists as possible.
- Introduce bendy busses, described as ‘public transport’, to mop up survirors and make London safe, once again, for vehicles powered by the infernal combustion engine.
So, on the whole, I am lack optimism about the legacy of the London Olympics including a single high-quality cycle route. There are only two reasons for optimism: London’s Mayor (Boris Johnson) and the present leader of the Tory Party (David Cameron) are both keen cyclists. But so was a former Minister of Transport (Sir George Younger) and he managed to achieve nothing of value.
In order to make cycle routes useful and beautiful, cycle route planning and design should be taken out of the hands of transport engineers. The job should be done by landscape architects – but only those who are themselves cyclists.