Cycling ‘suits’ Cape Town mayor

Mayor’s visit inspires young Steenberg cyclists:

On Monday, 21 February, an unusual procession of night riders strapped on their helmets and headlamps to enjoy the perfect windless evening along Coniston Canal in Steenberg. One of the riders was Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor of Cape Town, who joined the Freewheelers’ Cycling Club for a cruise around their neighbourhood.

The Freewheelers’ Cycling Club facilitates mountain biking and road cycling among disadvantaged youngsters, who would otherwise not have the opportunity to participate in the sport. Most of the aspiring cyclists live in Manenberg, Macassar, Parkwood, Retreat and Steenberg. Since its inception in 2004, the club has notched up numerous achievements, including riding the cycle tour most years, and participating in the annual Hondrug Classic cycle race in the Netherlands. Energizer has sponsored the headlights for the Club’s right riding.

The riders ended their evening with a braai and softdrinks at the club chairman’s nearby home afterwards. Before the ride, Mayor Plato said that his participation “combines two of the City’s main concerns: our commitment to promoting the use of non-motorised transport, and our support of any initiative aimed at redressing inequality in our society.”

But after the ride, it became clear that the Mayor’s visit did more than that. Says Trevor Knowlden, founder and chairperson of the Freewheelers’ Cycling Club: “The youngsters just didn’t want to go home afterwards. You know, for them, to see our Mayor so interested in what we are doing, relaxing and chatting to youngsters, meant everything to them. That someone that we look up to would spend time with us does wonders for their confidence and pride in themselves.”

Mayor Plato, still dressed in a smart suit from his day at the Civic Centre, remarked that he felt more like the cyclists he’s seen on his fact-finding travels in China and Latin America. “When we travel, we think we’re going to learn one thing, but often it’s something else that we learn,” said Mayor Plato, who used to ride a bicycle to school.

“In China and Brazil, people ride in suits and their Sunday best, it’s normal there. Here we are so used to the comfort of our cars if we have them, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of about riding a bicycle instead.”

PS – we love that CA 1 licence plate in the background of the pic…

Trevor Knowlden is one of the route contributors to the Cape Town Bicycle Map – http://www.capetownbicyclemap.co.za.

For details about bicycle lanes / cycle lanes, bicycle commuter routes and paths in Cape Town, as well as bicycle parking / cycle parking, visit http://www.capetownbicyclemap.co.za.

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