So the huge Stratford City mega-mall opened up last week. But, thanks to a combination of the Olympic Park, security concerns, and existing geographical barriers, it’s actually rather hard to get to – particularly if you don’t have a car.
As things stand, here are the ways you can get to it. I’ve marked the entrances on in red, on an OpenStreetMap map. The map is currently rather bare, in that it doesn’t really show the mall buildings, or indeed much else. However never fear, the OpenStreetMap community is here, and I have it on good authority that the map will rapidly become more comprehensive and complete in the next few days.
1 – NE. Cars only.
2 – NE. Pedestrians and cyclists only. After walking along a dusty, unpleasant road through a building site, you then follow a narrow path, with a couple of switchbacks to climb up onto a bridge. Only after passing the main access road to the Athlete’s Village can you join the road. There are security people at three points – the entrance to No. 1, the bridge, and the point where the route joins the road, to ensure everyone goes the right way.
3 – SE. Pedestrians only – although you could walk your bike. This is over the huge “rusty” bridge from Stratford itself, and drops you straight onto the “ground” level of the mall.
4 – SE. Pedestrians and cyclists via train from Stratford station, or pedestrians from the bus station just to the north. This entrance is at “lower ground” level of the mall, i.e. below the “rusty” bridge. There are a few cycle parking stands here.
5 – SW. Cars, pedestrians and cycles, although it’s a long lonely road to walk along from here – but you do get a great close-up view of the Aquatic Centre and its curious turf wall. The cycle lane marking is a bit of a mess – initially you start on one pavement, then encounter a no-cycling sign and have to cross to the other – but breeze-blocks have hemmed in the route, meaning pedestrians and cyclists have to share less than a metre’s width of space.
6 – NW. Cars only. The most contentious route for me on a bike, as it’s the direct route from Hackney. Security here is polite but firm – only cars get to drive through the Olympic Park. I suspect the real reason cyclists and pedestrians can’t enter here is because there are no pavements, just fences and walls – so for safety these road-users would need to take up the whole lane – and that would slow the traffic flow on this critical link between the A/M11 and the mall.
7 – N. Pedestrians via train only. Entrance from the DLR station at Stratford International (bikes not allowed.) Note you have to exit through the main Stratford International station, i.e. entry-point 8. The road leading from 7 is barricaded off at this end (only) and I got a yelling from security when I approached from the other (unblocked) end of the road.
8 – N. Pedestrians and cyclists via train from the High-Speed train services from St Pancras International or from Kent.
So, the only route by bicycle that does not involve you needing to dismount is from entrance 5, i.e. to the far south of the site. And, as the Londonist has spotted, even from this direction, there are obstacles in the way!
One tip for Olympic Park spotters, there was (on Sunday) a temporary overflow car-park that had opened just NE of the Aquatic Centre, allowing people an even closer view of the facility, along with the rather attractive temporary Water Polo arena. The Olympic Stadium and the Orbit are not far away either. It’s all coming together!