No targets for walking or cycling to London 2012 Olympics

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has admitted the Government has no targets for the amount of people who will walk or use cycles to get to 2012 venues.

The Government has poured millions of pounds into improving transport in and around the capital as part of the long-term legacy of the games.

But, with events due to be staged at venues all over the capital the opportunity to encourage millions of Londoners to walk or cycle is not being exploited.

Nor, so it would appear are there any provisions being made as regards to good and proper cycling and walking routes to the Olympic venues.

Speaking at the Foreign Policy Center's 'Access and Inclusion... Delivering the Green Games' Mrs Jowell admitted no targets were in place, making it impossible to commit to other infrastructure such as cycle racks.

She said: "As to targets for cycling and walking ... we're not setting specific targets."

With the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, committed to plans originally announced by his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, to place 6,000 free rental bikes across London's nine inner boroughs Mrs Jowell seems to be ignoring the benefits of cycling for the games.

Mr Johnson's director of transport policy, Kulveer Ranger, at the same event commented on the lack of a sustainable travel plan.

He said: "It's not there as a fully fledged policy and it needs to be."

It sure does need to be there as a policy but as a writer based in the UK and just south of London I must say that I am not surprised as regards this attitude from the government at all.

As per usual London and Britain miss an opportunity to show the way in green innovation. Then again, the way are as regards to cycling, they could not lead if they tried for the will too create what is being asked for again and again they are not willing to provide.

As I have said previously Britain only makes half-hearted attempts and talks a lot but that about is it when it comes to cycling provisions.

The same is true as to public transit, e.g. buses, trains, etc. where fares are permitted to rise and rise in such a way that using public transport is not really financially viable over the use of the motorcar and hence no real uptake of the services and people remain in their cars for every conceivable trip. Public transport is, simply, too expensive.

But, we were talking about cycling and walking to the Olympics in 2012...

Cities who host the Olympics often have a rare opportunity to improve their infrastructure in a major way. London will host the games in 2012, and it is probably doing a lot of things right, but it seems like it could do more to make the city friendlier to cyclists and pedestrians. One of the weaknesses of the city's bid to the International Olympic Committee was public transportation and it still is, especially the cost of it. The decisions London makes now will have an impact for decades to come, so it is worth doing it right, but, alas,the entire thing is going well over budget and they will claim that they cannot make those provisions.

As already mentioned the British Olympics minister (a special minister just for this), Tessa Jowell, has admitted that she has no targets for the amount of people who will walk or bike to go see the games.

And we can be certain that without specific targets, set by her and her department, it will be most surprising if much emphasis is going to put on the greenest forms of transportation, namely cycling and walking, and that will be a great shame.

One can but hope, but I will not gold my breath, that they will reconsider and set some ambitious – but realistic – targets for walking and cycling to the games, and do their best to provide the infrastructure and incentives to make it happen.

Providing the infrastructure, however, is going to be the moot point in that they will claim that there are no finances for that. It would need paths planned and built for this and that would

What London needs is more bike lanes (especially physically separated ones) and maybe even some pedestrian-only streets.

London will live with the legacy of the 2012 Olympics for a long time. So let us seize the moment and make London a more bike and pedestrian-friendly city.

Let's start with London and then with rest to follow and that pronto! The entire country needs to take a new a different look at cycling (and walking) and with the proper infrastructure I am sure the take up of cycling and walking, to the Olympics and especially afterwards for shopping, commuting, school run and leisure, will follow.

At present the roads are just too dangerous for the cyclist as motorists are more or less prepared to mow down the cyclist without any hesitation should a cyclist come into their way. The attitude of most drivers is that cyclists have no right to be on the road and hence...

© 2009