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.   

Join the Big Ride on Saturday 28th April

It's our traffic free family ride to show your support for building city streets as safe and inviting for cycling as they are in Holland.

The London Cycling Campaign is petitioning mayoral candidates to make high-quality cycling infrastructure a priority for the capital.

Please sign the Love London, Go Dutch petition.