Putting Pedal to Power

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

The wonders of pedaling in the great outdoors are plentiful, much like David Attenborough said, “If I can bicycle, I bicycle”. And more words of wisdom from Albert Einstein on the subject: “Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

In recognizing the month of October as ‘transport month’, the City of Cape Town is promoting all forms of transport. With the emphasis of the campaign on non-motorized transport, it includes cycling and public transportation, and is aimed at increased awareness for shared and safe road use for all.

When long lists of outdoor activities amid spectacular surroundings beckon, what could be more rewarding than putting power to pedal. And even better when bicycles are recycled for more communities to enjoy the outdoors as a result of greater mobility.

The Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) SA, who promotes the bicycle in all its forms, imports used bicycles from Europe that are distributed to low income areas where recipients are trained in safety and maintenance. BEN encourages cities to implement bicycle planning and infrastructure, and assists in the planning of events. It has distributed some 14000 new and used bikes, and has established 14 local Bicycling Empowerment Centre's from where all citizens can purchase renewed bicycles for charity purposes.

For the enjoyment of this outdoor sport, Cape Town offers a variety of safe off-road options, including cycling tracks through country areas and winelands, now also the preferred routes of several races. Another option is nature reserves, such as when heading southward via the False Bay coastline and Simonstown to the pristine Cape Point Nature Reserve also accessible from Scarborough. And for those wishing to clock up training mileage in mountainous environments, the steep hairpin inclines of the Tokai Forest and Noordhoek’s Silvermine Reserve offer superb choices.

But, the lack of dedicated road cycling tracks in SA does not make for the safest outdoor sport when compared to global cities such as the US, Australia, Europe and Asia, where forward planning and implementation accounts for safe cycling. Cape Town recently came on board when the city’s first major non-motorised transport route in the form of a dedicated single lane cycling track was launched in February this year. The first section of the city’s segregated bike way runs parallel to the newly opened MyCiTi bus system, along the R27 toward the West Coast, and is a key feature in the network of dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes around the main bus trunk routes.

The West Coast Route features a smooth three meter wide tarred cycle way along 16km from central Cape Town to the centre of Bloubergstrand. Residents have commented that from a cyclo-tourism point of view, it offers a safe cycle route, and that these dedicated lanes are seeing more disabled and younger members of the community participating. Recreational cyclists say riding from the Milnerton Market to Table View in the new bike lane facility is ‘quiet, away from the road, and well graded.’

Racing events are organized by Pedal Power Association, BEN, Engen Dynamic Cycling Challenges, and others. Events hosted by cycling clubs in October are published on the City’s list of sponsored events at: www.capetown.gov.za.

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