Currently in the very early stages of construction on the Western edge of the park, on the other side of the River Lea from the stadium, is Sweetwater; a new community consisting of around 650 homes, a primary school, two nurseries, a library and a health centre. Sweetwater will be located in the small area of the park that lies within the London borough of Tower Hamlets. No sporting activities took places here in the Summer of 2012 but it did contain the worlds largest McDonalds, the London 2012 Megastore (which is where I bought my Team GB hoodie from, and which still gets the odd wearing to this day). It also served as the space where Gary Lineker and others presented the BBC coverage from the top of a stack of shipping containers along with a storage space for games vehicles to park up behind the Megastore and McDonalds. Prior to the Olympics, up until July 2007, this area was home to the Bow Industrial Park and the Carpenters Business Park, sandwiched between the River Lea and the Lee Navigation.
picture I took in the spring of 2014 looking down the former Bow Industrial Estate Road from Carpenter's Road through a gap in the barriers, with the view looking much the same as it did during the Olympic Games
with the final layout pictured here, in the summer of 2014
The road shifts to the left instead of continuing straight on, as it used to, in order to accommodate a canal park and an elevated bank at the end of the pedestrian footbridge mentioned above, which had been constructed prior to the Olympics but simply ended in mid air for several years. Despite the vast space available no dedicated cycling infrastructure was constructed, the roadway remained narrow with all the space being spent on a mammoth pavement, which almost everyone now cycles on. Here is an image of the service road during the Olympic Games, taken from Google Streetview
I'm really not keen on the current trend of wasting space on colossal pavements and then expecting people to cycle on the road directly in front of motor vehicles. So wide is the pavement here you can even see it from space on google earth
|The same area as it is this year, captured by Google Earth|
However this section of the road passes through where a new Primary school is due to be located and so, just before Christmas, as the builders moved into start work on the new school, the Highways engineers also moved in to alter the course of the road. The entire site was fenced off and so I could only get a look at the start of the new road, by the Fish Island footbridge
and the end of it, at the back of the old Big Breakfast House near to the bridge over the River Lea
|The southern end of the new road, note the construction site of the new Primary school alongside|
|Advisory cycle lanes. Useless.|
The road is pretty narrow here. Whilst two motor vehicles could pass each other side by side they would certainly both have to drive in the cycle lanes
and then a fun looking slalom where I'm not sure I'd trust any speeding motorists to not swerve into the opposite cycle lane as they overtake someone in the cycle lane
taking us back to the Fish Island footbridge
The gigantic pavement which remains has been a well used cycling and walking route since this area reopened to the public nearly three years ago (known as Marshgate Terrace) and here is a picture from Summer 2015
and a view from the same area this weekend
Hopefully you can just about make out those narrow advisory cycle lanes in the background! Another view from 2015:
and the same view now:
Here is another view at the end of the route two years ago, it was fenced off back then directing you onto a now closed path leading to the towpath on the Lee:
With a view from the same angle last weekend:
There is easily enough space for the four teenagers on bikes to cycle side-by-side with room to spare, and that is still with half the pavement area fenced off. Soon they'll be expected to cycle in single file on that narrow advisory lane to their right! Of course that is unlikely to happen, the vast majority of people here will cycle on the pavement, just as they do further north already. It is, of course, entirely possible that some kind of cycling infrastructure will appear on the pavement here, which is crap for everyone
|Two Tier cycling provision in another area of the Olympic Park. A cycle track on the pavement which gives up at every junction and becomes a shared use pavement with "cyclists dismount" signs, alongside an ASL on the road|
|Home time at the Chobham Academy, many cars parked on double yellow lines and on the pavement|
Imagine if there was a network of cycle tracks in the Olympic Park that were as well designed and linked together as seamlessly as the road network in the park does.
|Young children on the outskirts of Nijmegen, able to get around very busy roads on cycle tracks through junctions that are designed to a high standard, just as the roads are|
Who wouldn't want to live in a new development where anyone can cycle to wherever they want to go to in safe conditions?
|A new development called Groote Wielen on the outskirts of Den Bosch I visited in the Netherlands last year. Most children will use a bike to get to school, visit friends and will have the freedom to safely get around a city independently|
|Primary School children exit a school in Beuningen, the Netherlands, directly onto a cycle track, despite their young age they will be able to cycle home alone safely in motor free conditions, even if they have to use main roads.|
The Olympic Park does have some cycle tracks on the main roads but they don't generally link up, or they suddenly end forcing you back into traffic. However where they exist they are well used by families.
Meanwhile the pedestrian bridge leading to Fish Island, which I mentioned at the start of this post and crosses that new road with its advisory cycle lanes, is also a well used by local families getting about by bike
I use it all the time with my daughter, either with her on my bike or her pedalling alongside, it is a safe and handy route for me to use to get to the swimming pool or Westfield Shopping Centre
|Teenagers cycling on the bridge last weekend - a regular sight|
Unfortunately the London Legacy Development Corporation plan to tear down this bridge (which has been open less than three years) to create yet another through road for motor vehicles to enter the Olympic Park
|Separate provision for people walking yet the visualisation shows someone cycling having to do so on the road with motor vehicles, something only a small percentage of the population are willing to do|
It is already possible to drive directly into the Olympic Park to use its network of roads via White Post Lane in Hackney Wick, Eastway (and directly off the A12 right alongside), Temple Mills Lane, three roads off the A112 alongside the Olympic Village and three roads off the A11 Stratford High Street. I really don't understand why another vehicle route into the park is needed, at the expense of a route that already exists for people walking and cycling. The new road bridge will link Monier Road, in Fish Island with the park
Fish Island is currently a naturally filtered area as you can only get in or out of it in a motor vehicle via one road. This means it is dominated by people walking or cycling due to not having any through routes for motor traffic. I feel safe cycling here with my daughter, just as I do in De Beauvoir Town, due to the pleasant, quiet, traffic free streets. Most of Fish Island is currently a building site as new developments are underway, nearly 600 homes are due to be built in the huge Fish Island Village scheme alongside the Hertford Union canal
|Ah, roads that are currently 66% full of parked cars will suddenly become like the Netherlands, filled with parents on bikes, this is despite the creation of new through routes for motor traffic right alongside|
Along with developments along Monier Road itself
|Whilst people do currently cycle side by side on Monier Road due to the lack of motor traffic, I can't see that happening when thousands of motor vehicles a day begin to use it|
I really can't see why this road needs to be built, there are already enough roads into the park and far too many roads within it. For the small amount of people that want to get from Monier Road to the park in a car it isn't exactly a lengthy journey
|Motor vehicles in the area can already access the park via a bridge 250m away|
The LLDC should not be constructing this new road, if anything they should be turning other roads leading into the park into filtered roads, enabling them to be used by pedestrians and cyclists only, whilst redesigning cycle tracks along the main roads that do already exist. How many second chances do they need? Most of the Olympic Park has been designed around cars, not people and I find it astounding that well used pedestrian and cycling routes that already exist are about to be destroyed for a new road network. The Olympic Park should be designed to encourage walking and cycling by building routes that make it attractive and convenient for people to do so. We aren't going to tackle London's air pollution crisis by making it easier and more convenient for people to drive than to cycle. I already have the rare opportunity to be able to cycle to the swimming pool, shopping centre or into the Centre of Stratford with my daughter without the danger of maxing with cars, buses and lorries. That luxury is soon to be taken away from me, as well as many other current local and future residents. How it that part of the sustainable Olympic legacy? The Mayor should urgently review this decision by the LLDC as it goes completely against his commitment for cleaner air. If he does not act now then a peaceful and safe route for children to travel in and out of the park will soon be lost forever.