Read my blog at Huffington Post

I also blog at Huffington Post's new UK site; please click here to read my posts there.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Olympic cycling goes wrong

This is not good at all about the disruption caused to Londoners by yesterday's Olympic cycling event. It sounds like the event was a great success and gave pleasure to lots of people, so that's terrific. It should, however, have been run in a way that caused less disruption. If it caused this amount of disruption, then that means that something went wrong. Transport for London (TfL) is guilty of breathtaking complacency if they think that it's sufficient to say, effectively: "Well, we warned people there would be disruption, so there." Warning people of disruption does not always make up for the annoyance caused by the disruption concerned. This event, after all, was one that only happened because someone wanted it to happen - it was not like the delays caused by unforeseen, emergency road works undertaken by a utility company. I used to work for a London utility company and I know a bit about traffic management and road closures. What happened yesterday really won't do. TfL says they will 'learn the lessons' (yawn) and I very much hope that they will.

There is no point in me being against the Olympics. Next year's events will bring enormous pleasure to a great many people and will doubtless be well-run in themselves. I don't like social engineering, so I don't like people having had to move their homes and businesses to accommodate the Olympics, with the promise that they will be compensated or get better places after moving - a promise that has presumably been made good. I don't like people losing treasured green spaces on the basis that they will apparently be given other, better green spaces instead. I hope that all of the promised improvements will be delivered. 

Non-Londoners may not realise that London residents have paid an extra chunk of Council Tax to the Mayor of London to fund the Olympics; in my borough of Barnet, residents have paid more of this Olympic tax than anybody else (because it's a very populous borough), but are not getting any Olympic events at all (a bit of cycling on Hampstead Heath was going to cross into our borough for a few yards, but the route has since been amended). When Olympic tourists generate tax revenue by spending money in shops, hotels and restaurants, that money will flow into the UK's national coffers, not London's coffers - even though it is Londoners, and not people more generally, who have paid this extra Council Tax. 

I have very little interest in sport. The Olympic emphasis on encouraging people to do sport to get fitter misses the point, as many sport-phobes will never play sport, and should be encouraged to do other forms of exercise instead - a lot of the best ways to exercise have nothing to do with sport. But it's happening, it will doubtless be a great success, and lots of people will enjoy it. So hooray for the Olympics, I suppose.

No comments:

Post a Comment