2012 Olympics mean ‘draconian’ restrictions on Londoners, says Assembly’s budget chief

The transport and Olympics authorities look set to clash with a wave of anger over plans for “draconian” traffic measures slicing through London for next summer’s Games.

Plans for an Olympics road network to ‘speed up’ access to the 2012 Games being staged in East London have brought protests over pedestrian and traffic restrictions.

Pedestrian crossings are being removed and ‘no right turns’ being imposed along The Highway between Tower Hill and Limehouse as part of the proposals.

Critics fear children risking their lives to cross the busy traffic route to reach Shadwell’s King Edward Memorial Park.

Shopkeepers are worried about deliveries if drivers are barred from turning right into Wapping or crossing The Highway from Cable Street.

Even traffic coming west out of the Limehouse Link tunnel is being barred using a right-turn filter to reach the A13 Commercial Road and will have to stay on The Highway instead—adding to the traffic funnelling towards the Tower of London.

The already-congested A12 Blackwall Tunnel Approach would have ‘Olympics only’ lanes which would narrow the dual-carriageway near the Bow Bridge junction with the A11.

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London Assembly budget chairman John Biggs, who represents East London at City Hall, accused the Olympics organisers of abusing their powers.

“Removing pedestrian crossings is a ‘high risk’ strategy,” he told the East London Advertiser.

“The powers they have under Olympics Act are draconian—they are doing what they want and the rest of world can ‘go hang’.

“They’re abusing their power—it’s not their job to make roads free to sweep around in their luxury cars, so that Olympic bigwigs can travel from their posh Mayfair hotels to the Stadium.”

Worst impact of the Olympics network from the West End to the Royal Docks will be along The Highway, Mr Biggs predicts.

He is meeting Transport for London next week in an 11th hour bid to get the traffic authority to make a U-turn—something drivers won’t be able to do with the restrictions.

Campaigners already embroiled in the fight to prevent King Edward Park being turned into a seven-year construction site for London’s proposed ‘super sewer’ fear children will be in danger with pedestrian crossings being removed next summer.

Campaigner Toni Davey warned: “Kids will risk dashing across The Highway to get to the park, while another crossing being removed is outside Macdonald’s—two hotspots. It’s ludicrous.

“Meanwhile, we’ll all be stranded in Wapping. Everyone is up in arms. Shops are complaining because they won’t get their deliveries.”

Ex-mayor Ken Livingstone joined the protests when he wrote to Boris Johnson urging the measures are not “balanced too far against ordinary Londoners.”

He told Boris: “Latest projections are more than 60 pedestrian crossings will be removed for three months on some of London’s busiest roads.”

TfL insists the crossings will only be removed two days before the Games and be put back immediately afterwards, while pedestrians will only have three minutes’ walk to the nearest alternative crossing.

John Biggs fears parts of London life will go into shutdown mode altogether next summer.

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