Poor route connectivity curbs bicycle commuting

Until local implementing authorities exhibit greater courage and commitment to bicycle commuting, isolated ‘Bike to Work’ days and disconnected bike lanes will not draw the crowds, writes Gail Jennings.

In a joint media release issued by the City of Cape Town and Pedal Power Association in support of a ‘Bike to Work’ initiative held during Transport Month in Cape Town one helpful ‘safe cycling’ hint was the suggestion that bicycle commuters avoid riding on ‘narrow, twisty roads without a yellow lane (road shoulder), as these often pose problems for cyclists because cars find it difficult to pass cyclists.’

Examples of the above, they point out, include ‘Constantia Nek into Hout Bay; Rhodes Drive (Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch); Newlands Avenue (Kirstenbosch to the M3); and Main Road Kalk Bay.’

They’re right about the danger, of course. But the question is this. Why, when the City’s vision is that ‘Cape Town will be a city where all people feel safe and secure to walk and cycle, [and where] non-motorised transport is part of the transport system, do roads like this continue to exist. Particularly in the light of the local authority’s commitment to consider and act on the needs of pedestrians and bicycle commuters with every new road or upgrade.

Kalk Bay Main Road is being upgraded at a cost of billions. It is also one of the most important connecting routes between the South Peninsula and the rest of Cape Town, and one of the most popular bicycle routes (and we’re not talking only recreational cyclists here, but low-income workers who use a bicycle as transport).

As far back as the early 2000s, transport planners and engineers have been warning the local authority that this lack of connectivity is a major hindrance to increased use of bicycle transport.

And the City received more than one proposal from visionary transport planners and engineers to include bicycle lanes on the stretch of road – supported by residents and community organisations.

These plans were rejected, leaving commuters the choice of either this dangerous road, or the steep and even more dangerous Boyes Drive, or the even steeper and even more dangerous Ou Kaapse Weg. Or, of course, purchasing a private car!

The reason Kalk Bay, Main Road (and others) remains a road bicycle commuters should avoid is because, harsh as this may sound, the local authority has decided that this is how it will be.

Visit http://www.capetownbicyclemap.co.za to get your print copy of our bicycle commuter information map – and please keep us posted with information we need to include next time around. What other bicycle commuter routes are dangerous? Where is it safer to travel by bicycle in Cape Town? Where’s the best place to ride your bicycle as transport?

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