Thousands expected to cycle to London Olympics

By Richard Peace | Tuesday, March 3, 2009 11.05am

As part of London's preparations for the 2012 Olympics, £11.5 million has been set aside to encourage spectators to cycle or walk to the Games.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has forecast that 385,000 people will visit the Games on foot or by bicycle. Some 4,400 cyclists are expected to arrive at the Olympic Park on peak days, with a further 10,000 walking there.

To encourage people to ditch their cars, the ODA is planning to build two new cycle routes and improve six others. The new traffic-free cycling paths will stretch from Finsbury Park to Victoria Park, where 5,000 new bike spaces will be provided for use during the Games, and from Epping Forest and the Wanstead Flats to Stratford.

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A major expense will be a £7.5m upgrade of the Elevated Greenway, a 4.3-mile path and green space on an embankment from Beckton in Newham to Victoria Park. A fifth of spectators are expected to use this route.

ODA chairman John Armitt has set a hugely ambitious target. "London 2012's aim is for 100 per cent of spectators to get to the Games using public transport, walking or cycling," he said. "Creating a good walking and cycling experience for people during the Games could see more people choosing this travel option afterwards."

However, the plans start to look a little meagre when compared to sustainable transport charity Sustrans's proposals for the area around the Olympics, which they are pursuing in collaboration with local councils (it seems no money for them was forthcoming from the Olympic Delivery Authority).

They feature a huge network of greenways and connecting routes, and even a new bridge over the Thames from Southwark to CanaryWharf. The total estimate for all these new developments is £115m-£180m. There is a consultation document on the Sustrans website, where those interested can leave their response.

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