diamond geezer

 Monday, July 09, 2012

A group of residents and cyclists held a demonstration yesterday at the northern end of the River Lea's Olympic towpath closure. They were concerned, nay angry, that the towpath has been sealed off well before the Games, and are demanding it be reopened (or at least its closure postponed until later in the month). 50 or so protesters turned up, initially in driving rain, to hassle the recently-installed soldiers sat in their makeshift plastic tent. The Metropolitan Police responded by sending down six officers to stand in front the temporary metal barriers to ensure that no-one would pass, so no-one did. No long-term change was effected, but appropriate noise was made, and the media duly noticed.

» The Open Our Towpath blog (& Letter to the Mayor)
» Twitter hashtag #olytowpath; Twitter @OpenOurTowpath
» Facebook group for the demonstration
» Several photos of the demonstration
» My two photos of the demonstration
» London Cycling Campaign article

Whether or not it's right to seal off the towpath for security reasons is a matter of some debate. But there is a very important additional issue, and that's the lack of a decent alternative route. TfL and/or LOCOG have had a go, and have devised a cycling diversion for use during the next two months. But that diversion turns out to be unutterably awful, appallingly signposted, and in at least one place astonishingly dangerous. And it doesn't even go anywhere near the Bow Roundabout. In fact, that's the problem...

You might think it'd be easy to direct cyclists down alternative roads to bypass a mile and a bit of closed river, but no, round here in E9 and E3 it's not. On one side is the impenetrable Olympic Park, and on the other there's a whopping great dual carriageway. You can't possibly redirect cyclists (or pedestrians) along the motorway-standard A12, so the alternative route has been forced to head even further west. Plus, it seems, someone in their infinite wisdom has decided that the official diversion must follow only quieter roads. In particular this means the detour ignores Cycle Superhighway 2, and avoids the Bow Roundabout, as if in recognition that a blue-painted stripe isn't especially safe. All of which makes the official towpath detour ridiculously unnecessarily long.

And to make things worse there isn't one official towpath detour, there are two. One route appears on the the official "London cycling guide - Olympic park and surrounding area guide - Summer 2012 edition" map (get your free copy here). A different route appears on the official "Orbital Cycling Routes - Olympic Park" map. You could click and play spot the difference if you like. The first route is a little more straight-forward but longer. The second route is a little less circuitous but incredibly twisted. And it's the second of these routes that's actually been signposted on the streets of Hackney Wick and Bow for cyclists to follow.

I don't know who's responsible for designing the yellow diversion signs for the towpath closure detour, but they clearly had a very limited budget. All the signs are made of some fairly light kind of plastic - one step up from cardboard - and are attached to various posts using a thin black cable tie. This means the signs aren't especially stable, and several are no longer facing in the direction they ought to be. Maybe they moved in strong winds. Maybe they've been deliberately knocked by miscreants' hands. Whatever the reason, so many of them are incorrectly positioned that if you attempt to cycle the official diversion route, you will definitely get lost.

Let's have a go at heading south from Eastway to Three Mills following the yellow signs...

The diversion leaves the towpath one junction too early, at the former Matchbox factory. [right, left, right] It follows Eastway west, which is infrequently signed. [straight on] It passes beneath the A12, negotiating a major road junction. [right, left] It enters Victoria Park, where there's no sign indicating left or right. [left] It passes what will be the Games-time cycle park where there are a couple of signposts, but one yellow sign's fallen to the bottom of the post and now both signs point in opposite directions. [straight on] It exits the park across the canal, although the yellow sign points straight on. [left] It follows Parnell Road, but only to the traffic lights, where there should be a sign but isn't. [right] It then ignores the direct route in favour of a diversion down a parallel residential street. [left] It reaches Roman Road, where there's only a yellow sign in the opposite direction. [right, left] The map then says to follow Ordell Road on the right, but the signed route wiggles left to follow Mostyn Grove instead. [left, right] It ducks beneath the railway, where someone has spun the "Victoria Park" sign through 90° to point the wrong way. [left] It diverts annoyingly round three sides of Caxton Grove, where one sign has been turned to point incorrectly into the community centre. [right, right, left]. It reaches Bow Road, where there are no yellow signs at all. [left] It follows the Cycle Superhighway for 50 metres only, before turning off down Tomlins Grove. [right]

This is the astonishingly dangerous turn. The route could continue to the Bow Roundabout along CS2, but no. The route could turn right into Campbell Road at the traffic lights slightly further along, but no. Instead cyclists are expect to perch in Bow Road's outside lane waiting for a break in the traffic and then turn right across the A11. Whoever included this turn in the official route was fixated on "quiet streets", not "avoiding right turns." Whoever included this turn in the official route clearly isn't a cyclist.

The diversion route continues down Tomlins Grove where there isn't a sign at the end. [left] It crosses Campbell Road, where you should watch out for busier traffic. [straight on] It enters the revamped Bow Cross estate, where the new road between the tower blocks is currently blocked by metal barriers. [straight on] It's supposed to turn left, but the sign here has been knocked and points into a house. [left] It heads off down an unwelcoming alleyway, although the turn isn't signed. [right] It wiggles through Stroudley Walk, which is nobody's idea of a pleasant location. [right, left] It's supposed to turn right into Edgar Road, but the yellow sign points back the way you've just come. [right, left] It follows a tiny bit of St Leonard's Street, where a yellow sign points directly into my doctor's surgery. [right, left] It arrives at the side of the A12, where the yellow sign entirely fails to make it clear whether the right turn is down the subway or straight past it. [right, down the subway, left, left, right] It heads past Tesco to rejoin the towpath, finally! [right]

It won't surprise you to hear that the signed diversion is considerably more complicated than the towpath route it replaces. [straight on, over the bridge, straight on]

It won't surprise you to hear that there could be a much simpler alternative route, if you're not a complete wuss and can cope in traffic. [from Victoria Park... straight along Parnell Road, left into Tredegar Road, right into Fairfield Road, left along CS2 at Bow Road, cross the Bow Roundabout, head down the ramp to rejoin the towpath] And yes, that is me recommending that cyclists cross the Bow Roundabout. It may not be entirely safe, but it's safer than an entirely unnecessary zigzag safari through the housing estates of Bow, negotiating several additional junctions including a very nasty right turn.

Because the biggest problem isn't that the towpath along the side of the Olympic Park is closed, the biggest problem is that there's no safe alternative. And that's especially the case when the official signed detour is completely inept, frequently incomplete and entirely ineffective. If this is your project, hang your head in shame.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan24  Feb24  Mar24  Apr24  May24  Jun24
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23  Jul23  Aug23  Sep23  Oct23  Nov23  Dec23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
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 

jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
broken tv
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
the greenwich wire
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
London's waymarked walks
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain
London's most...

read the archive
Jun24  May24
Apr24  Mar24  Feb24  Jan24
Dec23  Nov23  Oct23  Sep23
Aug23  Jul23  Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
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

the diamond geezer index
2023 2022
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

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
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

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
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

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
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards