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Cycling has long way to go in Cape Town
WEDNESDAY JUL 23, 2014

Across Greater Cape Town the two-wheeled revolution continues to make fuel-hungry roads 'cycle-friendly'. Cape Argus investigation revealed a cycling network covering 435km.

The best-known, perhaps, is the popular 15km stretch between Table View and the CBD which runs parallel to the red MyCiTi bus lanes.

Less known are existing routes across greater Cape Town, which will one day transform the way Capetonians get around.

The cycle lanes are part of the 'non-motorised transport' (NMT) network, which encompasses all projects the City of Cape Town undertakes to improve non-motorised mobility.

'This includes cyclists, pedestrians and crucially, universal access to road users who have special needs; for instance those residents who move around in wheelchairs,' Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, said.

'The importance of NMT projects is clearly demonstrated through the latest household survey ( 26 000 households across the metro participated in 2012) which found that up to 33 percent of low-income households walk to work/school/social amenities.'

But Andrew Wheeldon, of the Bicycle Empowerment Network, said there was a long way to go: 'As far as we can tell from the somewhat outdated and relatively poor surveys on cycling levels, it appears that less than 1 percent of people cycle.

'In certain towns it is higher, when the terrain allows for it, when there is a local bike shop, and where the roads are safer with fewer cars in evidence and a wide shoulder to the road.

'When the road surface is particularly bad, with a regular stream of heavy vehicles, and the distances are high, the percentage of cycling trips drops dramatically,' Wheeldon said.

'Apartheid spatial planning of towns and cities did not help this at all. In higher-density cities, the cycling rate increases, but more so in the recreational and competitive spheres than in the commuting category.'

Wheeldon argued that in the Western Cape the share of cycling, as a factor of all trips, should be at least 10 percent, if not 20 percent. 'We have the perfect climate, many flat areas, and as the city planners choose more high-density, localised home/ work/school strategies, and distances become more manageable by bicycle, this will increase and improve.

'Some Dutch cities have more than 80 percent of possible routes designed as cycling-friendly routes. Bicycle lanes are easy and low-cost to design and build, and the return rate on costbenefit studies demonstrates a 13-to1 return for every dollar/rand spent.

'The private sector could also sponsor specific bike routes and encourage employees to use bikes. Salary incentives, and shower and parking facilities at the office also help. Government can help through the provision of tax incentives to companies that promote cycling in the workplace.'

About half of the cycling network was 'of a fair to good standard, and half below par to outright dangerous and, in reality, in some cases, unusable'.

Wheeldon estimates the existing bike lanes constitute only about 5 percent of all routes cyclists require.


This non-motorised transport project will link Athlone, Rondebosch, Mowbray, Observatory, Salt River and Woodstock with the CBD.

The project entails two phases. During the first phase, the new green cycle lanes will be demarcated with Vuka Bumps (road studs) to indicate exclusive use by cyclists and pedestrians. Construction will start at the Malta and Station roads crossing in Observatory, linking it with the Liesbeeck Parkway cycle route.

The project includes dropping kerbs at intersections, improved pavements, and removal of obstacles for easier access for pedestrians with special needs, among whom are students from the Society of the Blind in Salt River.

Source: IOL Property
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