Category Archives: London 2012

How to “Boris Bike” to the Olympic Park

Yes! It is possible! There may not be any Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations in the Olympic Park itself, possibly due to “Barclays” not being the official financial services provider of the Olympics but more likely because of the logistics of rebalancing flows to/from major events and the safety aspects of a crowded space, but that doesn’t mean you cannot “Boris Bike” to near the edge of the park. Even better, you get to use one of the two quieter entrances to the park, avoiding the huge queues and crowd mechanics of the approach from Stratford through Westfield.

The above map is adapted from my live docking station map and shows the nearest docking stations to these two park entrances. Cycle to these docking stations, leave the bike at one of them, and then follow the arrows to walk the final kilometre or so.

  • Victoria Gate (west entrance). The docking stations on Old Ford Road and Roman Road are not far away, and these generally have plenty of spaces during the day, filling up in the evening as commuters return home – so if you are journeying to them to visit the park, you have a good chance of finding a free space, and similarly there should be bikes for you to hire on your return in the evening.
  • Greenway Gate (south entrance). This is the route for people walking from West Ham station – but this is a long walk, and you might as well walk from the nearest Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations which are about the same distance away – on Bow Road and Bromley High Street. However you do have to cross the notoriously unpleasant Bow Roundabout, which has no pedestrian crossings, to be able to pass along Stratford High Street. Also, these docking stations have generally been full during the day, for recent days, suggesting some are already using this route.

Both entrances are likely to be quick ways into and out from the park. If you have your own bike, there is a large secure cycle park in Victoria Park, from where you can walk to Victoria Gate.

There are several Olympic venues in Central London, which can therefore also be approached by Barclays Cycle Hire bikes, but be warned TfL is removing the docking stations that are very near, or inside, the venues themselves. A full list is here.

Background map based on OpenStreetMap data and designed by The Guardian.

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High quality lithographic prints of London data, designed by Oliver O'Brien

Olympic Torch Relay – The Unofficial Map

The organisers of next year’s Olympic Games in London, LOCOG, have unveiled their map of the 1000+ places that the Olympic Torch Relay will pass through. The data that the map is built from is readily accessible (as a JSON file that gets downloaded to your computer when you view the map) so I’ve taken the data and built my own (unofficial) map. It has a number of advantages over the official map:

  • The base map is OpenStreetMap, which is much more detailed.
  • The map takes up the whole browser page, allowing for easier panning around.
  • The line that connects each of the places is drawn as a vector, so it still appears as you to zoom right in to see individual villages. (The official map surprisingly uses tiles for the line.)
  • There are Wikipedia links for each of the places. Almost all of these resolve to proper Wikipedia entries, so you can easily find out about the places that have been picked, with the richness of detail that is characteristic of the Wikipedia project.

The route has been designed to “ensure the flame within a one-hour journey of 95% of people in the UK” (Source).

See it here.

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High quality lithographic prints of London data, designed by Oliver O'Brien

The Changing London Olympic Park – 2006 to 2010


Inspired by Andrew Kesper’s ABC before/after photos of the Japan tsunami destruction, I have created a “scrubber” photo of the London Olympic construction site in the east of the capital, using the imagery available in Google Earth. The aerial photography is copyright Google and Bluesky. You can the see the original imagery in Google Earth by using the program’s timeline slider, there are some other years also available there, even one from December 1945.

Move your mouse over the picture, to swipe between the 2006 and 2010 imagery.

Show dividing line?

I’m using JQuery to handle the mouse positioning. Creating such a graphic is
quite straightforward. There’s only about 10 lines of JavaScript code involved, plus some CSS styling. It even sort of works on the iPhone – tap once to reposition the dividing line. All credit to Andrew and ABC for the idea.

New Aerial Photos of Central London in Google Maps

Google Maps has today updated its aerial imagery for central London. The new imagery appears to be from sometime late last summer, and reveals the many new buildings and features that have appeared in the capital recently.

Above is the Olympic Stadium (with the triangular lighting gantries casting shadows into the bowl) and the partially complete Aquatic Centre. The high-capacity bridges linking to the stadium are in place. Below shows the coach park for the Olympics intruding into East Marsh, part of the famous Hackney Marshes. I’ve also included some pictures of the curvy new Walbrook building, on Cannon Street, which is squeezed around a tiny churchyard, and the new Shoredich High Street Station, with surrounding brownfield land.

…and here’s a plane in a very central location.

Orbit Rising – An Extrusion from the Ground

ArchelorMittal Orbit

The ArchelorMittal Orbit, a giant sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor and sited right next to the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, is starting to appear from the ground, looking, at the moment, like a giant-sized playground “mesh”. I like the momentary juxtaposition of the bright yellow cranes and bright red base-struture. The Athletes’ Village is behind the Orbit in these pictures, which I took from the View Tube. The Aquatic Centre, with its bizarre high temporary seating gantries, is just off to the right.

See the photo album on Flickr.

ArchelorMittal Orbit

Everyone’s Putting London 2012 on the Map

The Geographers’ AZ Map Company, makers of those iconic London atlases, got quite a bit of publicity earlier this week for putting out an extract of their latest map, showing the complete Olympic venues and Olympic Park layout, despite the event still being eighteen months away. Indeed the map will only be accurate during summer 2012 itself, as most of the venues will then be dismantled, and the park re-landscaped, after the six weeks of Olympic and Paralympic events.

They weren’t the first in getting their public map up-to-date though – I added in simplified shapes of the key arenas in the Olympic Park to OpenStreetMap, based on first hand observation from the park perimeter fence and the bus tours, several months ago. The Olympic Stadium is very roughly drawn, in particular. However, the Bing Maps announcement, also this week, of donations of its aerial imagery to OpenStreetMap, may mean I can update the shape to match the “bowl” that is visible in the circa 2008 photography available of the park.

The Ordnance Survey also has updated its Landranger map – the new version with the venues appearing on the OS’s own Getamap online survey, but not on the scans used by Bing maps.

Also, the OS has today made available a PDF of a special map – Engineering the Olympic Park – made for the Institute of Civil Engineers (more details). It’s a shame I only heard about this now, as a paper copy would have been a (map-)collector’s item, and they were handing them out at the View Tube which is close by where I live. Oh well.

The OS map’s photo of “Before 2005” is slightly cheeky, implying the entire site was full of rubbish bins, pylons and abandoned caravans. Certainly parts of the site were derelict, but other parts were quite pleasant. As a more thorough representation, Diamond Geezer did a careful survey of the whole area before the fences went up in 2007/8. Actually, having looking at the photos there again now, the dereliction probably did outweigh the beauty.

(As an aside, some of the other details on the A-Z extract are questionable, even without considering representation of buildings that don’t yet exist and might not end up entirely like their planned form. There appears to be a giant “playground” in Victoria Park, in the left-most part of the extract, which is just another part of the park’s grassland area in real life. They’ve also got the old Hackney Marshes sports pavilion, shown as “Pav” on the top-left of the extract, even though this was demolished last year and replaced by a new, larger building, further to the west, which opened last weekend. It seems that in their (quite understandable) rush to capitalise on the Olympic buzz, they’ve forgotten about the local community changes surrounding the park. Hmm, now where have I heard of that before?)