diamond geezer

 Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dear East End,

London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) yesterday confirmed that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Marathons will start and finish in The Mall in central London.
Yeah, Seb, thanks for nothing. Your revised marathon route has been so well leaked that this confirmation comes as no surprise. But it's still a kick in the teeth for Tower Hamlets, having made so much fuss previously about how we'd all be able to participate and then whipping our special treat away.
The new route has been approved by the IAAF and the Olympic Board, and agreed by the IOC. The development of the Olympic Transport Plan, and evolving sports competition schedule, has led to the route change.
So let's get this clear. The changed route is for purely operational reasons. Not because we're ugly over this side of London, but because it would get in the way of everything else you have to organise. Well, organise it better, then.
The new route provides a better operational solution without causing a high risk of disruption to the many other sports taking place at the same time in the Olympic Park and across London.
Sheesh, we've gone for the "operational solution", have we? You'll be claiming next that this this "optimises stakeholder potential efficiency" and "minimises maximal reputational damage". This is a risk-register-driven realignment, because nobody dares try something which might possibly fail, under a worst-case scenario, in front of the world's media. And sorry, but how does a marathon ending up in the Olympic Park 'disrupt' the other sports taking place there? Everything else has its own arena, surely? Events in the Olympic Stadium would have to pause to give a big cheer to the arriving athletes, but that's happened in every previous Olympic Games and the world hasn't ended. The runners would appreciate a big cheer, I bet, and they won't get that same roar on the Mall.
A Marathon route east/north east of Tower Hill, ending in the Olympic Stadium, would have required the closure of Tower Bridge and a number of important artery roads.
Stop me if I'm wrong, but Tower Bridge closes regularly anyway. It's the 'important artery roads' you're more worried about. Let's be very clear about this - the road from Aldgate to Bow isn't an important Olympic artery road. It's only part of the Alternative Olympic Route Network, to be used as a last resort in times of transportational crisis. The official Olympic Route Network runs down the A12 towards the Blackwall Tunnel (for North Greenwich) then into town along the Commercial Road. A brief overlap would occur on Stratford High Street, but send the runners over the Bow Flyover and there'd be plenty of room on the dual carriageway for everybody.
In addition, the infrastructure and secure areas behind the Olympic Stadium mean that it would have been impossible for spectators to watch and celebrate the final mile of the Marathon.
Bollocks. A significant part of the final mile of the marathon would have been inside the Stadium, where spectators could have helped provide the big finish the event deserves. The Greenway and the main spectator concourse could surely have been used to guide runners into the Park, and they'll be public enough on the day. And if you've been stupid enough to design a stadium without an appropriate entry route for the marathon, then you must have known about this fatal flaw years ago, so why didn't you scrap the original route then?
The Olympic and Paralympic Marathons are much smaller events than the annual London Marathon, and other mass participation marathons. The races involve around 80 athletes.
The normal London Marathon shuts 26 miles of roads for hours, and the city copes. The Newham 10K run fills local streets with 3000 straggly runners, and Newham copes. So how can a mere 80 athletes, all running at a similar pace, cause the mass paralysis that LOCOG claim?
The route has been developed around a ‘loop’ circuit so that spectators can see the runners several times rather than them just passing the spectators once.
No, the route has been developed so that it closes as few roads as possible (and mostly those that are quiet at weekends). The new marathon's a circuit race with three and a bit loops, so that only ten miles of London's streets need to be blocked off [map]. And OK, you might get to see the runners three, four, even six times, but you'll have to find some roadside space first. Judging by how crowded the Embankment gets on New Years Eve (and that's with people standing in the roadway), I wouldn't rate everyone's chances.
The new route will start in The Mall, and take in London sights including Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch, Birdcage Walk, St Paul’s Cathedral, Leadenhall, Tower Hill and the Houses of Parliament before finishing in The Mall.
Apart from Leadenhall, all of those landmarks were already part of the original marathon route announced in 2004. The new route also covers relatively tedious thoroughfares such as Queen Victoria Street, Cannon Street and Eastcheap, so it's not thrills all the way. And it now takes some astonishing deviations through the backstreets of the City, including such narrow backways as Ave Maria Lane, Lime Street, even Little Britain, which won't exactly be spectator friendly. If all London comes out to watch this marathon, all London won't fit. Without an East London spur, the suitable viewing length's now 25% shorter.
The original starting point of Tower Bridge was ruled out since it did not have sufficient space needed for operational facilities and broadcasting positions.
And nobody realised this back in 2005? Nor indeed in any year since? Come on, one duff starting position may force a revised race solution, but it doesn't force this particular new route.
The dates of the Olympic Marathons (Men’s and Women’s) and Paralympic Marathon will be confirmed when the sports competition schedule is published – all three races will take place on days when many other medal events are taking place in the Olympic Park and elsewhere in London. Therefore the Marathon route has to be compatible with keeping London moving at a time when the city will be very busy with many other Games events.
The Marathon route completely buggers up the Embankment, which is a lynchpin of the main Olympic Route Network. Presumably this doesn't matter. Most other Olympic events will be taking place in North Greenwich, which is completely reachable from Stratford without 80 runners getting in the way. And if there are other events at Wembley Arena or Lord's or wherever, quite frankly there are other ways to get there which might even involve leaving half an hour early.
Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG, commented: ‘This is one of the hardest decisions we have had to take – and we realise that this may be disappointing for Tower Hamlets.’
Tower Hamlets is one of the five Olympic boroughs. It was promised the basketball, which got moved into Newham to save money. It was promised the walking races, which got moved into Central London on the quiet. And it was promised the marathon, which has just been whipped away for mostly operational reasons. Tower Hamlets is now an Olympic borough with nothing, apart from a big building site nextdoor and several traffic jams.
‘We have agreed with the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council to develop a proposal creating other opportunities for the borough to be part of the Games.’
Right. No actual Olympic sports, but some 'opportunities'. One of those will apparently be the Torch Relay, which was last here in Tower Hamlets two years ago. In that particular LOCOG-organised fiasco, the flame whizzed through the borough unseen in the back of a bus, much to the disappointment of all those assembled to see it. Sorry Seb, your promise of 'opportunities' rings a bit hollow.
‘The vast majority of the sporting action will take place in the Olympic Park in the heart of east London, and the brand new sporting facilities and new housing we leave behind after the Games will be transformational for east London.’
Well, there you go. If we want to see some action we can always buy tickets, just like people in Croydon and Warsaw can. And there'll be a new swimming pool, in Newham, and some new cycling facilities, in Newham, and some new homes, in Newham. Yes, we know East London will do bloody well out of the Games. We just wanted our corner to be a little part of it.
‘Our prime objective as the Organising Committee has to be to deliver venues and events that work for the athletes, spectators, and for the host city – venues that provide the best possible way of keeping the city moving, minimising disruption for everyone and, critically, getting the athletes and spectators to the venues on time. We are confident that the new route is the best way to do this.’
No previous Olympic City has had the supreme locational bonus of an Athletes Village immediately alongside the majority of its sporting arenas. And yet no previous Olympic City has had to divert its marathon away from the Stadium merely because it might screw up the traffic. Not just for the athletes, either. Look, Seb specifically mentions spectators too, i.e. the officials and sponsors who need to be driven around everywhere. So much for this being a 'green' games powered by public transport, because it's limousines and coach convoys that have scuppered Tower Hamlets' marathon dreams.

Yes, Seb, we know you're not going to change your mind. Yes, we know the new route is final and we've missed out. Yes, we're sure that Leadenhall Market will look better on the world's TV screens than Whitechapel Market. But what you did here was to promise us something unique and global, and then steal it away. What you did here was to prioritise unrestricted traffic flow at the expense of East End spectators. What you did here, through lack of joined-up thinking, was to generate a major PR own goal. You'll have to hope that Tower Hamlets either forgives or forgets.
With love from LOCOG
(a bunch of brand-obsessed fuckwits who don't give a toss about local communities)


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sunday 27 April (10am-4.30pm)
Perivale Wood Open Day
Annual opening of a bluebell-
infested nature reserve.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
tired of london
thelondonphile
in the aquarium
christopher fowler
thamesfacingeast
one bus at a time
london daily photo
london reconnections
150 great tube things

read the archive
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv