London's best off-road cycling and walking route to Olympic Park will be closed for the games

London cyclists have been stunned by the news that one of the capital's most popular walking and cycling routes, along the River Lea, leading to the Olympic Park, will be closed the beginning of July to 10th September.

It will be replaced by a tortuous by-pass route likely to leave visitors lost and confused.

This comes on top of the news that the Greenway, a walking and cycling route through the Park, will also be closed from May to provide access points to the park.

The Games authorities, apparently acting under instruction from the police, have agreed to close the River Lea towpath between Homerton Road in Hackney and Bow roundabout in Tower Hamlets (see the map).

Unspecified 'security reasons' are cited as the reason for the closures.

The two-mile stretch of River Lea towpath is used by tens of thousands of walkers and cyclists every year, and is currently marked on Olympic Park route maps as one of the primary walking and cycling routes to the Games.

The towpath is also used by commuters as an alternative to nearby busy roads, including the notorious Bow roundabout, where two cyclists were killed in 2011.

Gerhard Weiss, a regular user of the path said: "It makes absolutely no sense to invest in a walking and cycling route to the Olympic Park and then ban walkers and cyclists at the time when it’s likely to be most popular." 

The closure will reduce even further the routes in the area available to walkers and cyclists caused by the closure of the flagship Greenway route that runs past the Olympic Stadium.

Tortuos By-Pass Route

London 2012 have now shown LCC a by-pass route for cyclists and pedestrians. Whereas the two mile towpath route is smooth, direct and traffic free the 3.2 mile diversion has over 40 turnings including a left and right turn on Bow road and the horrendous Hackney Wick motorway junction.

The by-pass includes one section of estate roads where cyclists will have to dismount and push their cycles. Without very careful signage visitors are likely to be easily lost and confused.

A search of the London 2012 website failed to find updated information on this route. The most recent cycling publication, from 2009, shows the towpath as one of the routes to "be promoted to cyclists and pedestrians during and after the Games."

Cyclist in the City blogger Danny Williams said on his website, "I managed to buy tickets for the Olympics, and I'm quite excited. I'd like to cycle there, but I'm not going to bother. It seems like too much hassle, frankly, so I'll take the tube."

An (unsuccessful) joint Dutch-Belgian bid for the 2018 World Cup proposed the greenest tournament ever, with 2 million free bicycles provided to encourage spectators to make local journeys by bike.   

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Replies

Why is the towpath being closed all summer?  This is just so depressing for the 'sustainable games' Please can LCC ask why this has just been sanctioned?

  • By Bruce at 4:39pm 16 March 2012

This is ludicrous.  Who are these "Games authorities"?  I want to write them a stiff letter!

This content was deleted by London Cycling Campaign at 12:06am 18 April 2012.

  • By neilt17 at 7:01am 13 April 2012

Is there any official site with details of the Greenway closure over the summer? I have had a good search but haven't been able to find anything with the precise details.

How can this be, when there's currently so much improvement work being done to it? I'd assumed all the works were in order for it to be a main pathway to the olympics. A truely baffling decision.

As this has been removed, I'm assuming there's been crossed wires somewhere and it is in fact staying open...

The Marshgate Lane to Stratford High Street part of the Greenway is actually closed until late 2014 !

I was using the Lea River Navigation Canal to get to Victoria Park as a bypass of Bow Roundabout when commuting from Romford to Old Street.

I've looked at the ridiculous diversion above and basically you can cut this in half distance wise. I've had to resort to pushing by bike round the northern side of this lethal roundabount and going alongside the side of the A12 for a short distance up into Wrexham Road/Fairfield Road and cutting across to Roman Road/Old Ford Road.

Does anybody know if its possible to get from Stratford High Street to Old Ford Road any other route at the moment as the closure of the Greenway and now the closure of the Greenway diversion along the Lea River canal has completely ruined what was previously the only nice quiet section of my commute?

Best Regards,

Kevin

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