Cape Town - Everybody is saying it: we need to get more people on bicycles on our roads.
The environmental, health and economic benefits are obvious.
But the headlines are shouting back: “Cyclist killed” or “Mountain biker
Internationally, the safety of cyclists has improved as the number of cyclists
increases: for example, more cyclists on the streets of Danish cities
Copenhagen and Odense resulted in a decrease in the number of accidents.
But how do we get more South Africans on bicycles when their safety is often
It’s obvious SA is a dangerous place for road cycling, and even people who take
to the mountains are being hijacked in alarming numbers.
Arrive Alive statistics show that in 2010 more than 250 cyclists were killed
and 800 injured. A year later the number of fatalities recorded was 222. In January 2013 the carnage was highlighted when South Africa’s top mountain
biker, Burry Stander, was killed on a training ride on the KwaZulu-Natal South
Bicycle hijackings are routinely reported on websites dedicated to the sport.
In 2014 a cyclist in Somerset West recorded a hijacking on the GoPro camera
attached to his helmet: the assailant was brandishing a handgun.
Provincial authorities responsible for road safety have generally embraced the
need for more non-motorised transport on roads. The Western Cape government has
been pursuing an ambitious campaign to get commuters on bicycles, and in
November last year passed legislation making it an offence for a motorist to
come within one metre of a cyclist.
The Gauteng government has launched a similar project to get more cyclists on
Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi fleshed out details of the plan, saying a
significant thrust would be to make cycling “cool” - it is seen as a poor
person’s choice in some communities - and to introduce rigid traffic
enforcement. Like the Western Cape, Gauteng has started developing cycling
Internationally, several high-tech safety initiatives are being developed.
These include a motion-activated sensor on a bicycle that communicates with
sensors in vehicles and alerts the driver when a cyclist is nearby. Volvo
recently teamed up with POC cycling helmets to include similar warning sensors
in both their products.
Meanwhile, a Stellenbosch company has developed a sensor that gives a cyclist
the speed and distance of vehicles approaching from behind.
But there is general consensus among cycling activists that a change in culture
has to start in people’s minds, and that public education campaigns are key to
changing the way drivers and cyclists use the road.
Vehicle safety company Tracker has launched a RideFree initiative designed to
do exactly this. The company has been involved in cycling events such as the
Absa Cape Epic, where it provides each team with mobile tracking devices that
can be followed online during the eight-day event.
It has also launched what it calls an “holistic” programme designed to ensure
safer cycling. The programme is designed around creating safe cycling
According to Tracker’s General Manager; Marketing, Charlette Roetz: “Our safe
bike parks are proving increasingly popular, showing that the Ride Free
initiative is playing a meaningful part in the national effort to maintain the
freedom and safety of cyclists.”
Tracker has been sponsoring and developing cycle parks, initially within
Gauteng, where cyclists can access safe, secure mountain bike tracks.