It was great to see the ODA and LOCOG promoting cycling as a way to get to the Paralympics yesterday. Gold medal winner Joanna Rowsell is helping to promote cycling as a great way to get around. Over the past five years, London has become a much more cycle friendly city with thousands of people enjoying cycling as a cheap, sustainable and healthy way to experience our great city. The addition of the bright “Boris Bikes” means that you don’t even have to own a bike to enjoy this unique pleasure.
Cycling gives you the full experience of the city, all the sights, sounds and smells and is the quickest way to travel over short journeys, along with walking. Travelling by car, bus or taxi is like observing the city through a TV screen. The subterranean experience of the Tube does not give you an experience of the city at all but it remains the fastest and most efficient way to travel for longer journeys.
London 2012 has made a great effort to promote cycling as a way of getting to the Games as part of the Active Travel programme. A total of 7,200 secure bike parking places have been provided, along with web-based maps and guides, led cycle tours and free cycle maintenance at the Olympic Park and Brands Hatch, the new venue for Paralympic road cycling.
There will be a legacy for cycling too; the city has invested £10m enhancing 75km of East London’s cycle paths, helping to make this part of the city a magnet for people wanting to enjoy healthy, sustainable lifestyles.
Our observations during the Olympics suggested that cycling may not have been as popular as it could have been London can be a difficult city to cycle in if you are not used to it. One of our team, Jonathan Turner, found central London quite challenging despite being an experienced cyclist and some temporary bike parks were not particularly easy to find.
The Paralympics provide an opportunity to continue promoting cycling as a healthy, affordable and sustainable form of transport, not just for the Games but as an enduring lifestyle choice. I hope LOCOG, the ODA and TfL are able to make a collective effort to ensure that any glitches in way-finding for cyclists are resolved and that it matches up to the excellent provision made for public transport users. If this can be achieved I am sure cyclists will enjoy a great day out at the Paralympics and that it will help to enhance London’s reputation as a bike-friendly city.