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Monday Apr 16, 2012

Durban cyclists eagerly await green light for cycle lane

If you've been desperate to take the cycle ride across the R10 million Ellis Brown Viaduct of the M4 Northern Freeway, you will have to wait a little longer.

The much-anticipated lane, which, after months of technical and engineering work, has finally been completed, is still closed to cyclists.

The cycle lane across the bridge has been under construction for several months, leading to major traffic disruption with lanes and even the whole freeway being closed at various times while the cycle lane was under construction.

Now, after months of waiting, the lane has been completed. However, the municipality is still waiting for a final record of decision from the provincial department of environmental affairs for the construction of the ramps that will lead on to and off the bridge.

"We cannot commission/open the bridge section without having at least the two ramps on either end," said Carlos Esteves, deputy head of roads system management at the ethekwini municipality.

The completed cycle route will extend from Blue Lagoon, along the Ellis Brown Viaduct and then on to Riverside Road, and is part of the city's nonmotorised transport plans, which will eventually link Durban to areas such as Umlazi, Kwamashu and Umhlanga.

The final record of decision is awaited from the provincial environment department for the Riverside Road cycle lane.

Esteves said: "We expect that we should have the decision to get on site in May, which will mean we hope to be ready for the July school holidays."

Cyclists eager for an early morning jaunt across the Blue Lagoon area have been seen stopping at the lane, which has been cordoned off by a concrete post, and carefully cycling on the road past traffic to get to the other side.

Greg Albert, chairman and secretary of the Cyclesphere Cycling Club in Morningside, said the bridge looks amazing. "We have seen that it has been completed and it's looking great; we can't wait for it to open," said Albert.

He said once the bridge was opened to cyclists, it would encourage more social cyclists and families.

"We never used to ride that way before as it was dangerous with traffic, but now it makes it easier and we can cycle along the bridge," said Albert.

The cycle lane is expected to end at the Umgeni River Bird Park.

Other cycle lanes such as those running along the beachfront and around other key city attractions such as the Botanic Gardens had cost the city about R6 million.

Most of those cycling lanes were completed ahead of the COP17 climate change conference that was held last year in November and December, and the use of bicycles was promoted to encourage delegates to cycle around the city.

Funding for the lanes was mostly from a grant donation from an international donor bank, said Esteves, with council contributing about 30 percent towards this work.

The Independent on Saturday

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