London Assembly Labour Group environment spokesman Murad Qureshi has today called for answers on the impact of the Olympic Games on ordinary Londoners, amid fears that roads on the Olympic Route Network (ORN) could face traffic increases of 25% and residents could find their parking bays suspended.
Murad is raising concerns over the lack of information available on how the ORN will actually be implemented; including what London Boroughs will be required to stump up for.
"I went to the Beijing Games", Murad explains, "and they had a number of specially dedicated IOC lanes. But Beijing’s roads feature a number of new motorways, and London’s roads simply aren’t large enough to emulate this type of scheme. The consultation document itself stated that traffic at certain times of day could increase by 25% – although it also asserts that 80% of journeys will be unaffected – something London Councils disputes."
Murad gives the example of the Marylebone Road: "If you isolate one lane for Olympic use, plus the existing bus lane, that only leaves one lane for ordinary traffic. This could have a huge and negative impact on road users in the area – including pedestrians and cyclists. The fear is that ordinary Londoners will be banned from using certain traffic lanes on the ORN and face hefty fines if they stray into one."
Concerns have also been raised over how refuse collections and street cleaning on the affected roads will continue, and whether boroughs will have to pay themselves for things like traffic signal upgrades on borough roads or the enforcement of parking contraventions on the route.
"It seems, as London Councils have stated, that very little information is available on how the scheme will be implemented in practical terms, who will pay for it and so on", added Murad.
"In January this year, the Assembly passed a motion calling for non-commercially sensitive sections of the technical manual on the ORN to be made public", he went on. "But all that happened was that the ODA allowed Assembly Members to see the manual on a strictly ‘need to know’ basis – provided they signed a pledge of confidentiality. I’m concerned that the implementation will be done behind closed doors with very little information about it being released until it is presented as a fait accompli with little scope for anyone to do anything about any issues. Given that some of those issues could be highly sensitive and affect traffic levels and issues like residents’ parking, this is worrying. I want the ODA to start explaining how they are going to deal with this properly and openly without delay. Personally I see no reason why the IOC officials can’t just use taxis in the normal bus lanes!"
1. The ORN will need to carry this high number of people between the Olympic Park and other venues such as Greenwich Park, Horse Guards and Wimbledon, as well as between accommodation venues, training venues and Heathrow Airport.
2. A summary of London Councils concerns about the ORN’s implementation is reproduced here:
- It is difficult to assess the full impact of the ORN without knowing which measures will be applied to which roads
- We feel the ODA is being optimistic when they say that "80% of journeys will be unaffected"
- We do not accept that the ODA will be able to find additional parking availability to make up for any losses caused by temporary suspensions
- It is unclear who will pay for the civils works on borough roads’ traffic signals upgrades
- The ODA will need to consider the long-term impact of any permanent changes to borough roads, in terms of traffic management and streetscene
- Little mention has yet been made about who will foot the bill for enforcement of any temporary measures, particularly parking contraventions on the ORN
- We do not agree that Games sponsors should be included on the list of people eligible to use the ORN
- The ODA have not yet considered the impact on street management activities, like cleansing, refuse collection and routine maintenance, that the ORN will have
- The needs of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users, need to be considered alongside those of car drivers