Even before the opening ceremony for the Olympics central London was strangely deserted. There were less people most places I went and a lot less traffic. Every now and then I’d run up against barriers to hold back crowds that were supposedly going to materialise to watch the Olympic flame procession – but I was pleasantly surprised by how few people appeared to be interested in this, although the media and Olympic organisers claim this non-event attracted huge crowds.
Now when I go into corner shops – such as newsagents – the owners complain that the Olympics has ruined their business. The endless warnings to locals to get away from London to avoid the total disruption of their lives, added to the fact that the roads are carved up with Stalinist Zil lanes reserved exclusively for official traffic, have had the effect of transforming much of the British capital into a ghost town. Not even the city’s notoriously right-wing black cab drivers (many are ex-cops) seem to like the London Games because they’ve been banned from driving in the Zil lanes.
While the cops have cracked down on protesters – for example by kettling and arresting those attending a regular pro-cycling Critical Mass rally – and the Olympics itself is pumped up with corporate and nationalistic bullshit, having less cars running around the city is fabulous. The air is cleaner and the streets are safer! So why not make this upside to the Olympics permanent – by banning cars and black cabs from London forever?
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!