There will be a test run of the Olympic road cycling event on Sunday August 14. The riders (some 130-150) will set off from the Mall in central London, enter Richmond Park via Roehampton Gate then exit by Richmond Park and go to Bushy Park and Box Hill. On the return leg, they will enter at Kingston Gate turn right at Richmond Gate and exit at Roehampton Gate.
The Friends met with LOCOG (The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), the organisers of the race, and The Royal Parks (TRP) in February and again in June.
At the February meeting we were very concerned about LOCOG’s apparent lack of preparedness. By June, things were much further advanced and in general we are happy with their plans, although we are still concerned about many details. We will be monitoring the test run for our discussions with LOCOG and TRP. The newsletter has an appeal for volunteer monitors (30 have already responded to a similar request in our last monthly e-mail).
Our main concern is not the race itself but the crowds. LOCOG estimate 12,000 spectators for the test run; 2012 could attract 30-50,000 on each of the two days (it is one of the few free Olympics events). Stewards will be active in controlling people in the area around the barriers during the race, but not elsewhere in the Park.
A warning about the test run: the Park will be closed to traffic (cars and cyclists) all day on August 14 and there may be partial closures on the previous day. Dogs have to be on leads all day on the 14th. Many surrounding roads will be closed from 4 or 6 am to mid afternoon, with residents unable to enter or exit. The police speak of “absolute gridlock” in the area, stretching from Fulham to Hampton.