ONE OF the pleasant surprises for Hackneyites during the Olympics was that the council had set up a big screen in Haggerston Park for people to enjoy live TV coverage from 27 July to12 August 2012.
As at other outdoors viewing areas, entrance was free, but at the Haggy, London E2 8EX, the public were allowed to take in their own alcohol so long as it was not in a glass bottle. Much riffling through dustbins in search of empty plastic bottles ensued.
The one disappointment was that cycle parking was limited. As if taking a cue from the Games to get physical, many people either walked or cycled to the venue. The organisers had other ideas, banning bicycles from the area once the provision was filled.
The result was a locking of bikes to any solid objects in the streets around. Not only did this mean a risk of damage to bicycles by becoming entangled, it created obstacles for pram-pushers and blind and other disabled people, forcing them into the road. The pavement around the Whiston Road entrance, is narrow.
Trevor Parsons, London Cycling Campaign co-ordinator in Hackney, commented: “Ideally, organisers should set up stewarded parking areas with heavy-duty hardware to which people can lock their bikes, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
“Where there are lots of park railings, it can be more practical and cost-effective to encourage people to lock to railings, and have a conspicuous security presence whose sole job is to deter thieves.
“We hope that future big outdoor events held here in the London Borough of Cycling will have cycle parking high on the planning checklist.
“The very popular Haggerston Park screen was quite a late-stage initiative, so it’s understandable, if a little disappointing, that there wasn’t enough temporary cycle parking to meet demand.
“In the years leading up to the Games, London Cycling Campaign’s attention has been on working with the Olympic Delivery Authority to try to maximise the amount of ‘active travel’ — walking and cycling — to the games venues themselves.”
Hackney council said that five racks, as well as barriers to which bikes could be locked, were provided, allowing a total of about 200 bicycles to be parked. The council added: “The big-screen events were free and Hackney provided some bike parking inside the park. It wasn’t feasible to provide a space for everyone in the grounds as thousands of people turned out for the opening and closing ceremonies.
“Many came on foot and those who cycled, and who wanted to park close, also used the park railings or nearby bike stands. It all went very well and the events were a huge success.”
* A curiosity observed: Loving Dalston was struck by the behaviour of the under-40s lolling on the lawns and occasionally ambling around the sedately laid out gardens in search of refreshment or toilets. Many of the hipsters stood up for the national anthem, making at least one oldie with republican tendencies feel a little curmudgeonly. Children brazenly paraded a full-size union flag, above, along the neat paths. In Hackney a year ago…