With all the emphasis on transport issues during the Olympics in London on how to get to and from the main Olympic site in Stratford, you would be forgiven for thinking the games were not happening in Central London!
Well its most certainly happening in Central London in a variety of locations including Lords for the archery; Earls Court for the proper volleyball; Hyde park for the trianthlon; Horse Guard Parade for beach volleyball and finally the Mall for the marathon. And of course, the impact of the Olympic Road Network(ORN) is most keenly being felt in central London.
At lords it all felt as though TfL had over prepared with road restrictions and signage for the archery. At best the event has going to only attract 5,000 when it had a full house, this when on a full day during the next test match at Lords, you will get 30,000 daily at the beginning of the test match. Yet if you compare the transport information put out to spectators for the archery with that of the cricket crowd, the latter bearly get much of that attention at all. As for traffic restrictions like no right turns for cars along Lisson Grove to Lords this was clearly over done along with the parking restrictions enforced on local residents and closer of pedestrian crossings.
Earls Court felt like more like a football crowd was going there particularly when the Brazilians were playing at the venue and not surprising you didn’t have businesses complaining about a down turn in business from this locality. But was it necessary for volleyball fans to walk around the neighbourhood from the front of Earls Court tube station when West Brompton tube was nearer to the entrance on the side of Earls Court itself? Particularly given it had better connections with the Overground and Thameslink, it would have meant fans could have got there by other means then the tube. And if accessibility of West Brompton tube station itself was a problem, why could this not have been sorted out when we had some 7 years to plan for it. West Brompton tube station has the potential to be a major interchange in West London between the tube,Overground and Thameslink yet TfL do not appear to want to invest in making this the case. Meanwhile this is a well kept secret amongst West Londoners which other Londoners should know about.
As for Hyde Park, there could not have been a better setting for the trianthlon in the whole of London for this event and the fans particular those without tickets to get a taste of the Olympics. But many found the signage to Hyde Park very confusing particularly on the tube where tube stations had the pink strip but didn’t explain you could come into the Hyde Park in different directions. The same could be said about House Guard parade for the beach volleyball but was of course ticketed.
Beyond central London l had reasons to go to other Olympics venues like Wembley for the football and Wimbledon for the tennis. Wembley can normally accommodate the numbers but for some reason had some difficulties for the mens finals between Brazil & Mexico which TfL have yet to give a full explanation and l understand FIFA representatives may of made complaints about already. And finally the road restrictions to get to Wimbledon from Southfields seem like Lords over the top and unnecessary as Wimbledon is use to dealing with greater numbers when we have the annual Wimbledon tennis tournment.
And lets not forget the last event of the 30th Olympiad will be the mens marathon along the streets of London which will start and end along the Mall going through and back to the City of London and thus not in the Olympic stadium as tradition demands. The cities of Westminster & London streets accommodated this well, and who knows this might be a better street plan for the London marathon !
So clearly there is a transport legacy for future sporting events in London particularly in Central London if we learn the lessons from the hosting of the Olympics.