September 09, 2013

Ironic: Tokyo Olympic Mountain Bike Course Inaccessible by Bicycle

Tokyo has unveiled its plans to build the Olympic Mountain Biking course on an island of reclaimed land in the middle of Tokyo Bay. Named the Sea Forest Mountain Bike Course it promises to be a lush green, albeit artificial, forest. An oasis in the city if you will.

But in a twist of irony it has been revealed, actually we've known for a some time, that the island upon which the mountain biking event is to be held is currently inaccessible by bicycle. The reclaimed land is connected to its neighbouring islands via two tunnels and a bridge all of which are closed to bicycle traffic.

Tokyo Gate Bridge which services the island opened with fanfare in 2012 and opening ceremonies included an organised cycling event which passed over the bridge. But as the bridge has no bicycle lanes, and a punishingly steep gradient it has since been closed to bicycle traffic. As it stands, with no subway access, the only way to reach the island is by car, but this will be addressed with the construction of foot bridges before the beginning of the games in 2020.
Tokyo Gate Bridge. No Bicycles Allowed.
The entire Tokyo Bay area, where the majority of Olympic events are to be held, is decidedly difficult to access by bicycle as Tokyo Gate Bridge is closed to cyclists and cycling is not allowed on Rainbow Bridge, although you can walk your bicycle over. This makes the area very difficult to access by bicycle.

One thing we're hoping is that transport planners will consider cycling when designing access to the Olympic venues and that the infrastructure they lay down for cyclists will continue to exist long after the games have finished.

Given close proximity of Olympic venues providing a bicycle share system with parking stations at each venue, and a network of cycling lanes connecting the venues would allow spectators to quickly and easily move between events in a convenient and environmentally friendly way.

Sadly the general public has very little say about the direction of development of the Olympic sites. No public hearings, very little public input.  If you'd like to see world class cycling infrastructure in Tokyo for 2020 then join me in tweeting  Tokyo Governor @inosenaoki to keep transport, and in particular cycling, forefront in his mind.

Read more about venues for cycling at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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