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Wednesday Nov 14, 2012

Cape Town wants more cyclists on the road

Road rules for Cape Town cyclists - such as travelling in single file, wearing helmets and stopping at red traffic signals - are seen as restrictive to getting more people on their bikes.

A track for joggers, cyclists, prams, wheelchairs, etc, is being built along the perimeter of Rondebosch Common.

These are some of the patterns from other countries that have large numbers of cyclists, and was some of the information heard at a presentation on cycling safety yesterday.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle Finance, Tourism and Economic Development MEC Alan Winde were some of the speakers.

Sport and Recreation MEC Ivan Meyer also spoke at the event and urged Herron to draft five cycling measures which Meyer would include in his next budget allocation.

This year the city will spend R124 million on non-motorised transport. One of the city's priorities is linking non-motorised transport routes to public transport.

A key theme was getting more cyclists on the road and changing the attitudes of both cyclists and motorists.

Gail Jennings, a non-motorised transport consultant, spoke on the findings of research commissioned by the national Department of Environmental Affairs. She said increasing number of cyclists on the road was linked to a direct improvement in safety for cyclists.

In countries with many cyclists, helmets were not mandatory. And only "anecdotal" evidence showed that helmets saved lives. According to the research, cyclists stopping at red traffic signals, yield signs and stop signs were also not necessary.

Jennings said it was shown that neither motorists nor cyclists benefited from this practice.

"Everyone knows that you [as a cyclist] will not go over a red light if it's dangerous."

Carlisle, however, said the cyclists were "by and large the most undisciplined road users".

He added that his department's move to ensure that motorists must be 1.5m away from a cyclist to pass them would add to the "edge" between motorists and cyclists.

"This rule is part of the process of people learning to respect each other," said Carlisle.

The relationship between the two groups of road users was critical to more people using bikes to travel.

Herron said part of the city's cycle safety plan would include more signage to alert motorist to areas with high volumes of cyclists.

The city would also start identifying "black spots" where there were high accident rates. He said the city was conducting surveys to measure areas with the highest number of cyclists as well as their peak travelling times.

The provincial government backed the push for cycling. Meyer suggested incentives such as free parking for cyclists and more expensive parking for motorists. Winde added that the CTICC's planned extension would have 180 bays for cyclists.

Andrew Wheeldon, from the Bicycle Empowerment Network , said he had spoken with cyclists on their biggest problem areas. This included Boyes Drive, Ou Kaapseweg, Constantia Nek and De Waal Drive.

He said cyclists allowed more people access to mobility, adding that the "most powerful incentive" to increase cyclist numbers was to make the roads safer.

Cape Argus

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