London Moves: An Olympic Challenge

Whether you are looking forward to the Olympics or not, the games will likely affect your travel routine here in London.

Unless your sole means of travel is by helicopter or teleportation or something.

Erupting like acne, bright pink signs and stickers have appeared all across the tube and the Overground, indicating the Olympic venues on the maps inside the trains and on signs such as this.

I do admit to being one of those folks who isn’t thrilled at the prospect of her commute in to work becoming problematic, particularly when I now walk past signs with arrows and the words “Olympic Park” and “Earls Court.” It’s particularly odd when you’re in environs that are quite far from a place like Earls Court.

The Londonist had put out a funny parody article, Olympic Travel Advice, that probably best sums up the mood of many a person who may be feeling a sense of impending doom with regards to the Olympic’s affects on travel. For another article on London transport, Annie Mole wrote an interesting article talking about Boris’ voice on the tube (something I’ve been grateful not to hear on the Overground… yet) and the simulated queueing taking place in stations such as London Bridge.

Although I don’t think Canonbury and Hackney Central will necessarily be the scenes for Olympic queuing, they are on the main line on the Overground that goes to Stratford, so, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am thinking up alternate ways to get into the office. I bought a bike that I need to get kitted out (come on, payday!) with a helmet, locks and a new seat, and I’ve already had a trial run of a potential Olympic alternate route during the bus strikes last month (see the first London Moves post).

Worse comes to worse, there is walking, which is something TfL is actively encouraging.

Googlemaps has said it would take me around an hour to walk from where I live in the western borders of Stoke Newington to my Bethnal Green workplace. Really, knowing me, that means that it’ll be more like an hour and 20 minutes, because I am likely to potter around… maybe an hour and 30 minutes if I stop somewhere to buy a cup of coffee and happen upon something I can snap a photo of for Abandoned in London.

And if I meet up with a friendly kitty who lets me pet him or her, that might be another five minutes right there.

Although it would require me getting up quite early and skipping my routine coffee from the fantastic Shaun of Coffee8 (who may spell his name as “Shawn,” I’m not too sure of this…), I’m actually quite curious about how long it would take me to walk to and from work. I have walked some significant distances in this city before; the longest being from a friend’s house on Hackney’s Clarence Road to the National Theatre, via Westminster Bridge. That was over 6 miles. My housemate, Clare, has me beat, though–she’s walked from Surrey Quays back to our house in Stokey. It wasn’t something she was forced to do, either, it was just something she wound up doing on a Sunday.

I walked from the infamous Dolphin Pub on Mare Street to my house once, via a falafel wrap from Ali Baba’s in Dalston. I think it took about two hours or so, but I did stop to play and pet two cats that were about for a while, I got the aforementioned falafel wrap and I tried to be a good person in helping a lost Scandinavian man trying to find where his friends lived at something like 4 am on Kingsland Road. I’m not sure I helped him–now that I think about it, I’m worried for him all over again–but he seemed to appreciate my efforts.

There are likely going to be more lost Scandinavians, Americans, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Germans, Canadians, Argentinians, Lithuanians, Mexicans, British and so forth for the Olympic games. And although I may be someone dreading the potential chaos their presence may bring on my daily routine, if I see someone who seems lost, I will help them.

Besides, think of all the cats I might see if I have to walk to work. Kitty!

Edited to add: You should also take a look at Vicky Taylor’s article, My Olympic London, for a positive spin on the transport havoc the games may cause.


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