Fury as triathlon brings gridlock to Docklands

By Rob Virtue on September 26, 2012 3:50 PM |

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Drivers stuck in gridlocked traffic for hours because of the London Triathlon are furious as they say they were not warned of any disruption.

Many contacted The Wharf, including a heavily pregnant Isle of Dogs resident, angered at having to wait in their cars until early evening in chaotic scenes on a storm-hit Sunday.

Between 5am and 6pm, while the event took place, the Limehouse Link tunnel, East India Dock Tunnel, The Highway and most of Aspen Way were all closed causing a build-up of traffic that effectively blocked any routes on and off the Island.

Meanwhile, the weather and roadworks due to Crossrail construction only compounded the problems.

Clare Chaplin, who is eight months' pregnant, was stuck in traffic with her two young children for over two and a half hours.

"I called the police non-emergency number to find out what was going on because I thought something terrible had happened," she said.

"I've never seen the roads like that before. The police said lots of people had called but there was no incident. People were driving on the wrong side of the road they were so agitated.

"When the roads are closed off out of the Isle of Dogs we're stranded. What would I have been supposed to do if I'd gone into labour? Given birth on Westferry Road?"

Clare, who had to do a round trip to Norfolk on Sunday, pinned the blame on a lack of warning.

"Something like this could have been so easily avoided if we'd had notice but there wasn't even road signs up on the Island saying 'congestion expected' like when the marathon is coming. If we'd have known we could have parked in Stratford the day before and got the DLR there."

Another Islander told the Wharf it took him three hours to get home from Gallions Reach.

He said: "The triathlon usually isn't too bad but this one, on the Sunday morning, was just atrocious. You just had to sit in the traffic and wait."

In response, Transport for London said it put signs up on main roads such as on Aspen Way. However, warning on smaller roads was the responsibilty of the event organisers which would be advised by the relevant borough.

When asked, Tower Hamlets Council admitted it had only advertised the road disruption on its website.

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Cllr Peter Golds said neither he nor his colleagues were made aware that there would be problems.

"I was as bemused as anybody by what happened," he said. "It was chaos. It's all very well for the council to say they advertised this but how many people get up in the morning and say 'I must look at the website to see if there are any problems'?

"People are saying they wish the Olympics would come back - as amazingly everything then was so well organised."

The Conservative councillor for Blackwall and Cubit Town said he had asked the council why it was not better publicised. He added the congestion was a stark reminder that the Island is facing an overpopulation crisis.

"Still there are plans to stick another 12,500 homes here while the infrastructure is just not available," he said.

Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick also received complaints and said he would be asking questions.

"The first priority of the event organisers should be that local people are properly informed," he said.

"I will be writing to the organisers, TfL and the Mayor of London to find out exactly what happened. We must ensure there is no repeat of this next year."

Problems also took place on the Saturday evening. This was reported to have been down to a broken down vehicle in the Blackwall Tunnel.

Meanwhile, disruption continued on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings due to Marsh Wall being shut. This was for shooting of the film The Fast And The Furious 6 starring The Rock.