As someone who lives close to London, I just don’t see the attraction of bringing the Olympics to London in 2012. While I can understand in principle why some people might think it’s a good idea, I just don’t see how it can work in practice – particularly from a transportation point of view.
London is an old city – one whose road network has completely failed to keep up with the dramatic increases in traffic. In Paris, where the Périphérique functions as a somewhat decent ring road and the broad avenues can channel a lot of traffic, the main cause of congestion is the overly aggressive drivers. In London, the problem is that the road network just does not have the capacity it needs, no matter how polite the British manage to be on their tiny roads.
London does actually have a motorway ring road: the M25. It has 2 or even 3 lanes in each direction in most places, and has up to 4 lanes in thos places that are most congested. However, the M25 is quite far out from London and is primarily useful for getting around London and much less so for getting from one end of London to another. Even so, it’s very often extremely congested.
To get from one place to another inside London, there is another ring road much closer to the centre: the combination of the South Circular (A205) and the North Circular (A406). To everyone’s surprise, these “circular” roads are neither circular, nor are they motorways.
The “South Circular” it is simply a collection of roads that lead through several suburbs and in most places has just one lane in each direction. The image on the left shows a section of the A205 as it winds itself across the Thames and through the centre of several villages in southern London.
The is not just a bit silly: it’s a joke to think that a you can be successful in having the Olympics in a city where the transport network cannot cope with normal traffic on a Sunday afternoon, let alone traffic at rush hour.
My suggestion to those people that think London should host the Olypmics is to bid for the 2050 Games instead of the 2012 ones. That way, there may be enough time to complete some of the enormous infrastructure improvements that have to be made before it’s feasible to even think about bringing even more transportation chaos to London.
I really, really hope that New York or Paris “win”. If London is chosen to host the Olympics, heaps of money will be used on stadiums and temporary infrastructure that will not benefit London in the long term, and will not be enough to prevent the Games from causing huge disruptions anyway.