Cycling to the Olympics

Cycling sounds like the perfect way to get to venues when all other modes of transport are going to be bursting at the seams. But just how easy is it going to be for those of us who want to take to two wheels?

Let’s start with the good news. The Olympic Delivery Authority has invested £11 million in cycle route upgrades. At the venues there will be free cycle parking made available along with free cycle maintenance services.

Cycling map of the Olympics in London

Authorities expect that on peak days 4,400 cyclists will converge on the Olympic Park and River Zone Venues. The plan is to provide 5,000 secure cycle spaces. Victoria park, which is only around a 10 minute walk away from the stadium will have 3,000 spaces.

So what is the bad news? For a start, strict train travel restrictions on bicycles will be extended. You won’t be able to take your bike on the Overground nor will you be able to on the Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express and Heathrow Connect services. That will extend from the 27th of July to the 9th of September 2012. The rest of the rush hour bicycle restrictions will continue.

Cycling to the Olympics map

They’ll also be some closures along the canal routes. From the Eastway ramp to the Bow Flyover. The will effect not just those cycling to the Olympic games but also those who regularly use the routes. This restriction is being put in place as it is seen as a security risk.

Olympics games lanes

Perhaps the most raved about inconvenience is the Games Lanes. An example of which being the Euston Road. This will have the westbound offside lane closed from 6am to midnight from the 25th of July until the 14th of August. However, disruptions to cyclists should be minimum as 95% of closures will be on the far side as opposed to the bus lane.

How to cycle to the Olympic games

As I mention in my little cameo in the above TfL Get Ahead of the Games video, it’s a good idea to use route planning tools. In particular, I recommend Cycle Streets. However, it’s worth also planning your cycling route to the Olympic games using the London 2012 travel tool. The reason why this tool has the edge is that it can inform you how to get to specific venues.

You could also use the Cycle Hire Scheme. However, there is a danger that docking stations will be busy, full or, depending on your location, completely empty. The nearest docking stations are around 15-20 minutes walk away from the Olympic ground.

What some cyclists may do as an alternative is ride to a nearby station and complete their journey on public transport. With the inclusion of travel passes in the price of tickets, financially it makes sense. However, buses and tubes may well be overcrowded so, if you can, it would be worth cycling the entire way and using the secure cycle park.

I’m often told this is the most positive cycling blog people read. Therefore, I’m going to end with three positives.

The first is that if you feel your cycling will be disrupted, imagine how much other peoples tube journeys will be disrupted. Cycling will be the least effected mode of transport.

The second is that the Olympic Delivery Authority claims that 12% of their 10,000 strong Olympic workforce cycle to work. That’s far higher than London’s average and proves where there’s a will, there’s a way to get people cycling.

Finally, I personally am excited to see people from all over the world coming to London to enjoy the Olympic games and, despite the traffic inconveniences, think it’s going to be a great time to be in London.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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35 Responses to Cycling to the Olympics

  1. Emma 18/06/2012 at 11:33 am #

    Thanks for this Andreas. I’ll be working at the Olympic Park during the Olympics and during a test event in May I tested out whether cycling the 32 miles per day from Croydon was feasible. It is. Sort of. I won’t have anywhere to store sweaty cycling gear after changing for my shift nor have a shower. But I’ll be working out side all day, I’ll get just as hot on the train getting there and hopefully it will be far more pleasant journey!

    And I’m in agreement with you – the Olympics in London is exciting :-)

    • Andreas 18/06/2012 at 4:37 pm #

      Shame to hear they are not providing those facilities but good on you for attempting a 32 mile daily ride! Clearly part of the 12% ;)

  2. Sarah 18/06/2012 at 11:43 am #

    I cycle to work in NW1 every day which is 3 miles from home and I’m more concerned about increased traffic on the roads, specifically drivers who are unsure of where they’re going and not as aware of surroundings as they should be. So I’m going to be ditching my bike and walking to work instead for the duration of the Olympics, it feels safer that way.

    • Andreas 18/06/2012 at 4:39 pm #

      I would hope that people would be discouraged from driving as there will be a complete lack of provision of parking spaces at Olympic venues.

  3. Mike 18/06/2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Thanks Andreas, great blog as usual.

    Do you have any information on cycling to other venues? I have tickets for the rowing at Eton Dorney and live within sensible cycling distance, but have heard rumours of road closures and alternate access.

    • Andreas 18/06/2012 at 4:40 pm #

      Thanks Mike – I don’t unfortunately, however, if you go on that travel.london2012.com website you should be able to tap in the venue you are going to and get cycle parking info.

      • Mike 19/06/2012 at 12:39 pm #

        As you suggested Andreas, the travel.london2012.com website does indeed have this information. And there is cycle parking for Eton Dorney on Windsor Racecourse which is (according to the 2012 website) 6 minutes walk from the entrance to the event. Bit of a tortuous route to get there, but perfectly feasible.

        Looks like that’s how I’ll be doing it then.

        Thanks :-)

        • Andreas 19/06/2012 at 2:58 pm #

          You are very welcome Mike – hope many people will be doing the same thing as you ;)

  4. James 18/06/2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Do you know if I’ll be allowed to carry my folded Brompton into an Olympic venue? Or if I’ll be allowed to put it in a “cloakroom” somewhere? Don’t really want to leave it locked up somewhere – don’t even own a lock.

    • Andreas 18/06/2012 at 4:41 pm #

      Interesting question James – did think about this myself but haven’t come across any info on Bromptons. My guess would be that the rules would be pretty tight about even folded bikes. May be worth contacting organisers to see if they can offer any advice?

  5. Dave H 18/06/2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Andreas – the ATOC leaflet has given some overly broad brush information. I’ve been on the case and note that Southeastern, who have the biggest disruption through being required to run a shuttle service with the HS1 trains between Ebbsfleet and St Pancras. will, for the 2 weeks between the events, revert to their normal timetable, and normal operation (I’ll leave regular users to make their own comments on this). Southern’s restrictions are also not as severe as the leaflet seems to suggest.

    BUT the Southeastern restrictions(and the Southern ones are going to apply at the stations they operate, which are used by FCC and FGW, who say they have no, or very few restrictions). I’m still looking in to LOROL, and I think we can ignore Heathrow Express who have the most draconian restrictions, extending their ban from 13 July to 14 Sept – two months, as there are no special restrictions on Heathrow Connect.

    My prediction is that an effect similar to that which occurred at St Pancras in 2004-05, and Waterloo in 2006-07 will hit the area around London Bridge, possibly on a far greater scale, not helped by the fact that cycle parking on London Bridge Station (platform ’7′) is being closed and possibly removed for the duration. This at a time when many city office buildings are increasing their provision with temporary expansion of cycle storage – and many already have capacity for 200 or more bikes (this is why a few city streets are recording 50% of vehicle counts as ‘cyclist’ during peak hours, but there is little evidence in the form of bikes parked on the street).

    I was able to record the dramatic changes St Pancras and Waterloo photographically over the past 15 years, but the potential scale of this is far greater, and I’d urge people to consider getting a few ‘before’ shots of bikes parked overnight at London termini or other places where modal switch may take place to avoid the long wait to get onto tube or bus services. I’ve a hunch that Finsbury Park might be one such location (I use it regularly rather than wait for a train to King’s Cross, when coming off a Moorgate train) Vauxhall is another.

    The Southeastern website should have the pages live now, but there are also leaflets – I’ve got that as a .pdf, and hope to collate more.

    Finally it is worth remembering that On Your Bike actually has a Bike Park at London Bridge, which would work a lot better if/when an access was knocked down through the crown of the arches below the station, but is not too far to walk when the alternative is a massive queue to get in to the Underground stations, or catch a bus.

    NB re Bromptons into the park – highly unlikely as the only way to move large numbers of people is to have them all using the same mode at the same speeds – ie walking, and not carrying huge cases – there may even be a limit on where prams can be wheeled as in a moving crowd they pose a significant hazard. Nonetheless some enterprising soul might find a way to offer folding bike storage at a closer and more convenient location than the cycle parks. Again as an engineer I think I can see some solutions, so let me know if this gets the germ of an idea rolling with anyone and I might know where to find the kit, or the people to put together.

    • Andreas 18/06/2012 at 11:35 pm #

      Thanks for taking the time to post that info up Dave. Information out there is vague and seems to always be changing so it’s good to hear from different people. Perhaps someone who lives nearby will be advertising folding bike parking in the near future!

  6. John Lavery 19/06/2012 at 9:55 am #

    All very well for those going to the Games. What is continually forgotten, however, is that the vast majority of Londoners (I would guess well over 99%) are not going to the Games. They still have to get about the metropolis and the Games are going to do a great job of preventing that for the best part of two months. Already the Mall and Horseguards have been closed to traffic until September. My wife, who is one of many cyclists who use these routes to get to work, was forced onto the pavement yesterday in order to get home and, during the Games it is looking like she will be forced onto Piccadilly to mix it with the rush-hour traffic there. Not an attractive prospect. The other possibility is that she will be forced onto overcrowded public transport because she cannot find a suitable alternative cycle route (we haven’t identified one yet). This will happen to others all across central London. The simple fact is that, for the benefit of a tiny minority, Londoners are being treated as third class citizens in their own city and I, together with many others think it is disgusting.
    I know you won’t agree but you do need to be aware that there is more than one side to this issue.

    • Andreas 19/06/2012 at 11:58 am #

      That’s fine John – everyone is welcome to their opinion on the games. I know there are many cyclists dissatisfied at the Mall redirections and unfortunately the redirected routes are nowhere near as safe. Can I check – where is your wife cycling from and to? You could use Pall Mall and then head up using the cycle lanes.

    • Peter Smith 22/06/2012 at 10:46 am #

      “forced onto Piccadilly to mix it with the rush-hour traffic there. Not an attractive prospect.”

      Indeedy. I cycle this bit every day on my ride home, and it’s a bit hectic. The trick is to keep your lane, and watch out for vehicles turnign left without indicating – it’s best to travel in the middle lane up to the point where the road goes down to two lanes …

      • John Lavery 22/06/2012 at 12:19 pm #

        Thanks for that Peter but the real question in my mind is why cyclists are being forced to do this sort of thing at all. As I have noted, these problems are occurring across the capital – at least as far as Wimbledon if this Blog is to be believed (and I think it is!). TfL publish posters around London suggesting that commuters might find it easier to cycle than use public transport during the Games whilst the very cycle paths that might facilitate this are closed for the duration. I am truly appalled at the way Londoners as a whole, and cyclists in particular (because I am one and thus have a vested interest), are being treated.
        Again we go off the topic of this particular blog entry. Sorry Andreas. At least you managed to start a debate even if not intentionally!

  7. Dave H 19/06/2012 at 12:21 pm #

    I’ve seen a similar comment on a rail commuter forum – they are already having to circumnavigate the great obstruction which is an Olympic venue. and at Stratford the 3 years of building inside a Berlin Wall, with a shuttle bus along a security corridor just to get to the station, have given a taste of what will happen in a month’s time.

    I’d expect that any trip I make to London over this period will find me discovering that some of my ‘standard’ routes across the city get tripped up by the dreaded Zil Lanes, and a need to deal with changed traffic flows.

    Good to flag this up. Reflecting on the by pass factor, I’d reckon that Finsbury Park might get popular as a bale-out and bike it point along with Vauxhall or Clapham Junction, with the impact of a huge increase in fly parking. I did document this for smaller blockades but here is a key opportunity for the wider cycling and walking population to record the changes they see, with some ‘before’, ‘run-up’ and ‘during’ pictures, perhaps a bike count at work to see how many more or fewer cycles are parked, or even a bike count at the part of the station you use.

  8. Dave H 19/06/2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Rail-Pedestrian commuter reports substantial increase in cyclists using footways around The Mall diversion areas.

  9. John Lavery 19/06/2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Pall Mall is part of the Olympic Route network and so likely to be off limits. However, our concern is not so much for our individual problem. After all we are just 2 people out of many 10s or 100s of thousands trying to find solutions to the mess which this has created. My principal point, and I stand by it, is that Londoners are being treated, by the organisers of the Games, as third class citizens in their own city. That is wholly wrong. Londoners deserve better than that.

  10. Dave H 20/06/2012 at 7:44 am #

    Not only you John – here’s what the guys with the ringside seats reckon will be their legacy from the Games http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/video/2012/jun/13/london-2012-legacy-olympics-homes-video?CMP=twt_gu

  11. John Lavery 20/06/2012 at 8:47 am #

    Thanks Dave.
    Very interesting. I hope they win their battle. I had major worries about the effect the Games would have on the city from day 1. As a civil servant at the time London won the bid I was involved in some of the preliminary work on the ‘legacy’. I can’t say how I was involved, but what was happening left me very worried and I was, as a result, a very reluctant participant – but you will understand that civil servants must implement the policies of their political masters, whatever their own views. The sad thing is that it is possibly even worse than I feared at the time.
    As this is Andreas’s cycling blog I rather think we should probably stop here. We have rather gone off the topic!

  12. nick mason 20/06/2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Olympics already affecting my cycle commute with the closure of St James Park and the Mall. You can also feel the heavier traffic on the alternate routes around that. I’m quite annoyed its closed to cyclists so early.

  13. Dave H 21/06/2012 at 12:07 am #

    The cycle parking at London Bridge Station – c.100-150 bikes I think is being removed, and may well by now have all been taken out. The timing is such that Network Rail will probably be in a position (or hold-off until they are) to install the new cycle parking for the rebuilt London Bridge Station.

    The indications I’m getting are the NR are not actually going to do anything to deal with the displaced bikes, and the area on Station Approach and Tooley Street already has all the bike stands, railings etc well filled with bikes, in an area which TfL and LOGOG also see as a queuing/crowd control space.

    I don’t even think that anyone has considered a tie-up with OnYourBike, from TfL, NT or the TOC’s who are banning cycle carriage for the 3 and 2 week windows. Seems a bit daft, especially as TfL provided funding to deliver the bike park at the rear of the store in Tooley Street.

    Observations/photos would be useful as this is the beginning of the impact of a major intervention, which could both boost the level of cycling and highlight the need to manage by consulting and provision of a solution, rather than confrontation and creating a problem, where one need not exist. Oh and if anyone fancies a few letters to local London AM’s and MP’s feel free – I’m going to see what might be brokered with available resources – anyone got a spare barge? (Amsterdam Centraal parks several ’000 bikes on a pontoon moored adjacent to the station)

  14. Tony Parrack 22/06/2012 at 10:20 am #

    Hi Andreas – I live in Wimbledon and they are closing some of the main routes around Wimbledon Tennis for the Olympics – even tho it isn’t neccessary for the much larger Tennis event over the next fortnight. Including Parkside which is one of those designated Olympic Poute Network routes and very busy for mere mortals to get to work and locals to get around on.

    < >. (Can I say that and get printed on your site?)

    • Andreas 23/06/2012 at 6:26 am #

      Would prefer the lack of any naughty words on the site despite Olympic level frustrations!

  15. nick mason 23/06/2012 at 8:03 am #

    The St James Park (the london one . Sorry Newcastle fans) closure is also making pavements in Whitehall very crowded as all the pedestrian traffic now has to go that way. I walked round that block yesterday lunchtime and the combination of the new whitehall traffic jam and the packed pavement was unpleasant now and can only get worse as the tourist season really kicks in.

    • Sue 23/06/2012 at 10:42 pm #

      Unless it is already shut, try Birdcage Walk, even if you get off and push for the few yards of the one way section. Currently Petty France and Tothill Street are okay. I have also tried down Vauxhall Bridge Rd, then up the Embankment over Lambeth Bridge and up by St Thomas’s to Waterloo. More mileage for me but not too bad, as getting on an outbound train during rush hour normally is bad, let alone during the Olympics (with a Brommie). Not keen on reports that Lambeth Palace Road will be full of relocated coach spaces though.

      • nick mason 24/06/2012 at 9:15 am #

        Thanks Sue. Its a bit the wrong way for me. Heading north I was going over Lambeth bridge up to to horseguards parade then the mall and across Trafalgar square. I was a bits sceptical of how bad the traffic etc might get during the olympics but now I think when the full closures kick in nearer the event I might need to buy a helicopter.

  16. Ben 26/06/2012 at 11:24 am #

    Why would anyone cycle to the olympics and then park a km away in Victoria park? People are going to chain their bikes up on the railings outside Westfield. I know I will. Security could remove them but not if there are hundreds. They didn’t remove the ones parked there at test events. I’ve cycled to the Olympic park a few times and it’s all ok until you get within a km of the park, then I start seething at what could have been done rather than putting a cycle path sharing the pavement that even before the olympics always has some feckless pedestrian walking on it because it looks like a painted path not a cycle path. In fact last time I cycled on that section on the flyover into Westfield there was an entire primary school class having a picnic on the cycle path.

    They could have made the entire flyover wider and added cycle paths on both sides, seeing as this whole project was designed from scratch. if their had been legislation in place, forcing them to do so it may well have happened.

    Green olympics. Pah!

  17. Johnno 29/06/2012 at 10:11 am #

    All the car parks around Stratford are going to be closed, the car park @ Westfield is definitely closed now….my wife is not happy she can’t spend her usual fortune @ Waitrose. Think any bikes parked around Westfield will be removed.

    My usual route to work along the Greenway is closed between the A12 and Vicky Park, am having to deal with the wonderous Bow Interchange…(safest route….. the flyover)

    I live in Stratford, it is inconvenient, but what the hell…it’s once in a lifetime, and in all honesty once it’s over the area will be better, and all the cool canal paths and oher routes will be open again

  18. Mills 03/07/2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I am working at the Olympics and no one is able to tell me WHEN the cycle parking is open. Some of my shifts don’t end till the wee small hours. Can I pick my bike up from Viccy park? No one at the Olympics itself seems to know. If anyone does, please post!

    • Kathryn 09/07/2012 at 1:21 pm #

      Hi Mills, I’m having the exact same dramas. I’ve spoken to our volunteer coordinators & they have no clue. Plus the spectator journey planner seems to show it as shut all the time :(

      • Jenny 10/07/2012 at 11:00 am #

        I’m in the same boat too, I asked the question last night on my venue training and have followed up with an email to the team leader I was speaking with today. From the journey planner it would seem the Greenway parking opens at 7am, not much good as I start work at 6:20am. Will report back if I get any further, useful information.

      • dave 29/07/2012 at 9:31 pm #

        24 hours… at least that’s the reply my partner got when she asked about parking at Eton Manor for her volunteer shifts at 6 am at the Hockey Stadium. She hopes that it’s true!!

  19. Fiachra 19/07/2012 at 3:30 pm #

    Have to say I’m pretty surprised by your verboten lifting of “cyclists will not be affected by games lanes” from the GAOTG website. Saying that the lanes will be offside and therefore won’t have much impact is superficial – all traffic being forced into the one lane means sharing lanes with much more traffic, bus lane suspensions will mean increased exposure to vehicles, and increased congestion will impact cycling generally.

    I’m already experiencing massively slower travel through New Cross on my bike, and the (offside) games lane near Greenwich Park has meant cars not leaving nearly enough space for overtaking properly, as they’re afraid to go into the games lane to do it.

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