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“They would never block a whole road without permission”: London Marathon organisers slammed for blocking cycle lane, forcing cyclists “into oncoming traffic”

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As the world’s finest long-distance runners, along with over 50,000 plucky amateurs in fancy dress and raising funds for charity, take over the streets of the capital this morning for the 2024 edition of the London Marathon, one cyclist has pointed out that the build-up to the event proved a little less accommodating for those on two wheels.

London-based cyclist Rich was riding on Cycleway 4 on Tooley Street, near the junction with Tanner Street, on Friday afternoon at 2pm when he discovered that the protected cycle lane was blocked by workers setting up the necessary infrastructure for Sunday’s marathon, an obstruction he claimed was forcing cyclists using the lane into oncoming motor traffic.

Posting an image on X (formerly Twitter) of a truck connected with the event’s set-up blocking the entire path, Rich wrote: “For the second year in a row, London Marathon workers setting up fully block Cycleway 4, dangerously forcing contraflow cyclists into oncoming traffic with no signal.

“They don’t block the road of course and no formal closure. Transport for London, this is appalling.”

As Rich noted, this is the second year running he has noticed vehicles associated with the London Marathon blocking Cycleway 4 in the run-up to the event, with the cyclist posting a similar image on social media last April:

Meanwhile, other cyclists criticised the lack of warning that the cycleway would be closed, with one social media user noting that the marathon’s impact on cycling infrastructure in London failed to warrant a mention on Transport for London’s ‘major works and events’ page (RideLondon, the annual cycle race and mass participation event, set to take place at the end of May, is included, however).

“It is disappointing that the cycle lane is viewed as fair game for a convenient parking spot with no regard for the safety of those who need it,” Rich tells road.cc.

“Cycle infrastructure is still considered second class. They would never just stop and block a whole road without permission.”

Rich also criticised the lack of safety measures put in place to allow cyclists to navigate the impromptu obstruction.

“I think the marathon is great, but if there is no choice but to block the cycle lane for set-up then they should get proper permission, use signs, or traffic management and provide a safe alternative just as they would if closing a road,” he says.

“It is obvious they didn’t care. By parking here, cyclists travelling west have to go onto the road into oncoming traffic or end up on the pavement which is unfair to pedestrians.”

> Manchester City fans slammed for “constantly blocking” cycle lane outside Etihad Stadium, as council says it “shares cyclists’ frustration” with illegal parking

However, rather unsurprisingly, not everyone on social media agreed with Rich’s stance on the decision to block the cycleway to allow for marathon preparation.

“That’s a two-way street to your right. Not pushed into oncoming traffic, unless you’re really bad at cycling. Perhaps they should cancel the marathon for you,” wrote Steve.

“No, it’s a one-way street with a contraflow bus lane which is on the other side of the road so any westbound cyclists forced out of the cycle lane there are going directly into a lane of oncoming traffic,” Rich replied. “They just need proper traffic management it really isn’t difficult.”

“So if they had put in a full closure of the road and cycle lane, would that be beneficial to you?” asked Russ. “You still wouldn’t be able to cycle down there. Surely better to get off your bike, push it around the parked vehicle, and get on with your day?”

“They don’t need a full closure, they just need a permit for traffic management, temporary lights and a temporary lane,” Rich, again, gamely responded.

“Or just park a few metres round the corner. It really isn’t hard, but they don’t give a shit because it’s easier to put cyclists at risk by dumping the truck there. Also, if you look at the picture you’ll see the pavement is blocked too. No thought for accessibility?”

road.cc has contacted Transport for London and the TCS London Marathon for comment.

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