London cyclists shortchanged by Olympics?

By Jeff Jones, European news editor | Wednesday, October 3, 2007 3.38pm

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The 2012 Olympic Games could leave London worse off for cycling facilities than it is now, despite cycling's growing popularity in the British capital.

British Cycling and lobby groups are increasingly concerned that there will be an inferior replacement for the Eastway circuit in Hackney which was closed last November. The site will be redeveloped for the Olympics to include a velodrome, a BMX track, a one mile road circuit and an off-road track. But while this VeloPark sounds attractive, British Cycling and the Eastway Users Group (EUG) fear it could occupy less than a quarter of the area of the original Eastway, because of a possible housing development on the site.

"What really worries us is that we had a site with the protection of Metropolitan Open Land status which has been taken on the promise of a replacement after the Games, supported by planning conditions that are now seemingly ignored by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and its planning arm, the London Development Agency," said Michael Humphreys of the EUG in a statement.

A replacement facility for Eastway was promised at Hog Hill, Redbridge, some six miles further out of the city which would involve increased travelling time for many riders. It is also months behind schedule, leaving London's racing and recreational riders without an alternative to Eastway for the time being. And even when it finished, there is no provision to fund the new facility in the long term.

At an ODA planning meeting in August, it was confirmed that the size of the legacy cycling facilities at Eastway was not set in stone. "There will be a further opportunity to consider concerns at the detailed design (reserved matters) stage," noted the Authority in its Site Preparation Planning Application.

Both British Cycling and the Eastway Users Group have vowed to keep the pressure on the ODA to ensure that the VeloPark that will be left behind after the 2012 Olympics is big enough. The EUG is calling upon all Eastway users to make a formal planning objection on the latest plans by October 8. Contact eastway7506@btinternet.com for details on making an objection.

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