Le Tour de France – it's finally here

SimonGeneral0 Comments

It’s been a pretty hectic week, meaning lots of late night working and no time for proper blogging. And the reason for this?

The Tour de France Grand Depart has arrived in London, and the race will spend around 20 minutes passing through Medway, en-route to the stage finish in Canterbury tomorrow.

Medway Council is one of Transport for London’s partners in hosting the race. It’s been a really exciting experience to be working on an event of this scale, even though my involvement has mainly been focussed on Medway rather than the event as a whole.

I first attended a meeting about the race coming to London and Kent back in late 2005, and have been working on it ever since. There have been more media launches than I thought ever possible for a single event, including a huge media conference in Paris last autumn.

The main part of our work in Medway has been in the past three months. The geography of the area and the routing through Medway means that we’ve had to undertake a two pronged approach to communicating – promoting the race and its effects generally as well as communicating with residents in small areas that are affected in a very specific way.

The challenges of the complexity of this, alongside a mix of excitement and apathy among Medway residents, has really tested the team. Looking back on the communications on the eve of the race, I can certainly see some things that we would do differently next time, but I have a generally good feeling about how the communications in Medway all worked out.

We took a complex and difficult task and approached it strategically, breaking it down into manageable pieces of work. I’m looking forward to putting together a post-campaign evaluation next week that should reveal lots about how we’d approach similar communications projects in the future.

As I write this my colleagues in events and highways at Medway Council will be working, setting up miles of barriers and event hardware. The route will be cleared overnight and by 7am tomorrow morning, the route in Medway will be closed to traffic and almost ready to hand over to the race organisers.

Of course it’s not over yet for the communicators either. Several of the team, including me, are on duty tomorrow handling media interest and dealing with any communication-related issues that might crop up (although I’m sure there won’t be anything quite like the last time a professional cycle race came to Medway). I’m lucky enough to be working at the first sprint section of the stage, where there should be some decent racing taking place.

As a keen cyclist myself I can’t help but get caught up in the excitement of the event itself as well. The Prologue today in London looked pretty exciting and well-attended.

The weather forecast looks good for tomorrow, so it should be a great day out for thousands of residents and visitors throughout London and Kent.

And I’m sure tomorrow evening I’ll be breathing a sigh of relief, along with colleagues from Transport for London and the other partners who have worked so hard to make it all happen.

Next week it’ll be back to business as usual, tackling my ever-expanding to-do list and hopefully getting back on the blogging trail too.

Image: Shawdm, Flickr 

[tags]Tour+de+france, medway, cycling[/tags]

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