Towpath users send a message to The Mayor
Over fifty local residents, walkers, cyclists and families braved the elements at the weekend to tell The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and LOCOG what they thought about the closure of the River Lee Navigation towpath over three weeks before the London Olympics begin. The demands were loud and clear: “What do we want? Access! When do we want it? Now!”
Many of the protestors were among the ninety plus who have signed a letter to the Mayor about the closure, after rallying to calls on Twitter and Facebook, and they were joined by others, who were trying to use the towpath on Sunday but found their way blocked by barriers. Most could not understand why the huge fences, CCTV and armed forces were not deemed enough to secure the Olympic Park, others were stunned by the hypocrisy of an organization promoting physical activity in closing off an accessible way to exercise.
The youngest of the demonstrators was only one and the eldest some eighty years his senior, there were both commuters and leisure users but all were angry about the closure and none could understand why it had come into effect so far ahead of the games. This was a friendly and sociable protest: after joining together holding letters spelling “OPEN OUR TOWPATH” the group sheltered under canvas to share a picnic and their towpath tales.
Co-organiser Ruth-Anna Macqueen, a junior doctor, said: “Like many people I commute using the towpath and I was shocked to find out that it had been closed twenty-three days before the opening ceremony.
“The route that TfL are suggesting I take instead includes the notorious Bow Roundabout where two cyclists were killed at the end of 2011 and it isn’t something I am looking forward to negotiating.”
Ruth-Anna and the other organizer, Steve Wakeford, only “met” for the first time last week on Twitter when the closure was being discussed and they decided to try to get the route reopened. Steve commented:
“We have been amazed by the support online and it is brilliant to see all these people come out in the driving rain to make their voices heard.
Today is only the start, we’ll be telling Boris Johnson and LOCOG what we think of the closure until we get access back.”