#6. IF OLYMPICS VIPs CAN HAVE SPECIAL ROUTES, WHY CAN'T WE? From 25 July to 11 September, London’s streets will be equipped with a network of special routes for athletes, VIPs and games employees travelling between Olympics venues. As TfL’s informational video explains, ‘roads across the whole of London will be affected’.
This ‘Olympic Route Network’ (plus the ‘Paralympic Route Network’) will feature ‘marked lanes that can be used by only athletes and accredited vehicles’. Any driver stopping or parking in these ‘games lanes’ risks a fine of £130 and the removal of their vehicle.
The games lanes will be ‘clearly marked and signposted’ and will ensure that ‘everyone involved in the games can move around London efficiently’.
This implies, of course, that it’s acceptable for anyone not involved in the games – i.e. all Londoners, at all times – not to be able to move around London efficiently!
But on a more positive note, the Olympic Route Network has some encouraging implications for the London Cycle Map Campaign, which is calling for a map and network of signed cycle routes throughout the capital.
The Olympic authorities have shown that it is possible, and indeed desirable, to create a network of designated routes throughout London.
They have shown how easy it is to put up signs and to paint new lanes and markings on the road surface, to make the network functional and visible, all within a very short space of time.
They have shown that vehicles stopping or parking in lanes designated for other road users are hazardous and disruptive and that this behaviour can and should be eradicated by imposing harsh penalties.
The obvious question is: If VIPs can have special routes, why can’t cyclists?
It’s not even as if the London Cycle Map Campaign is asking for new cycle lanes to be created to the detriment of existing road users.
With 2000 kilometres of London Cycle Network already in place in the capital, we’re asking simply for that network to be properly signed and marked. Doing so in accordance with the routes shown on Simon Parker’s London Cycle Map would enable cyclists to get from anywhere to anywhere in the capital by following just a few trails of colour, on generally safer, quieter streets.
Unlike the Olympic Route Network, no-one else in London would be affected negatively. On the contrary, millions more Londoners would be encouraged to cycle, and reap all the benefits of a cheaper, healthier and happier way of travelling.
The Olympics has shown that this kind of network can be created quickly and affordably, and be properly regulated to protect the interests of its users.
There are no excuses. The privilege deemed suitable for Olympic VIPs – to ‘move around London efficiently' – should be the right of all Londoners. A London Cycle Map and a signed network of cycle routes would achieve this.