With construction work stepping up around Greenwich Park, Monday marks the first day it’s closed to through traffic for the Olympics period, with The Avenue (the hill down to Greenwich town centre) being shut off. Frankly, I’d like to see traffic banned from the park altogether – parks shouldn’t be used as traffic short cuts. That won’t win me any friends from the streets around the park, mind.
But something dumb has been sneaked out along with this – even cycling through the park is going to largely outlawed as of today, except between 6am-8.30am, and after 5pm. As Francis Sedgemore writes: “Cyclists are buggered whichever way you look at it.”
It’s not the first time LOCOG and the Olympic Delivery Authority have stuck a finger up at cyclists in their haste to get venues ready – on Woolwich Common, the cycle route at Circular Way has been closed without replacement, while there’s been well-documented problems around the Olympic Park, partly down to Newham Council’s obstinate attitude.
But the Greenwich Park cycling ban feels like a legacy of the horrible polarised “debate” over the Games in the Park – the stubborn NIMBYs of NOGOE on one side, an over-eager and arrogant council on the other, and no common sense in between, leading to bad decisions, bad feeling and a lack of consultation all around.
Of course, cycling will be one of Team GB’s big medal hopes this year. If only London 2012’s organisers could show the same respect and pride the less illustrious cyclists who coast down and puff up Greenwich Park’s hill every day, who’ll now be forced to take awkward diversion routes.