It’s not (only) about the bike lanes – CT Mayor ‘inspects’ Khayelitsha NMT facilities

Following Cosatu’s provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich’s recent attack on the DA-led City for building dedicated bicycle lanes in a wealthy area in Table View, Cape Town’s executive mayor Alderman Dan Plato showcased dedicated bicycle lanes built along spine road in Khayelitsha to make a point that bicycle lanes do exist in poor suburbs as well.

Accompanied by Mayoral Committee Member of Road and Transport Elizabeth Thompson and City officials, Plato cycled a stretch of about 4.8-km of dedicated bicycle lanes along Spine Road in Khayelitsha on Friday afternoon (6 May 2011).

“It’s not the case that bicycle lanes are built in affluent suburbs only,” he says. The infrastructure along Khayelitsha’s Spine Road is in no way inferior to that of the Milnerton to Parklands infrastructure, he pointed out. “In fact, the infrastructure here is exceptionally good.”

We do have infrastructure in place …we just need to extend the infrastructure to more parts of Khayelitsha and need to encourage the cyclists of this area to use the lanes,” he said, “ We can create whatever infrastructure we like but unless people use it, it means nothing. People complain that the infrastructure is not used.”

While inspecting the infrastructure, Alderman Plato handed out reflective wristbands to people using the route – none of whom were cyclists… But although the visitors did not encounter any other cyclists on the route, the facilities are enthusiastically used by scholars and other pedestrians. Which is no bad thing, of course. That’s also for whom they are designed.

Elias Tukushe, Head of NMT for the City, explained that Non-Motorised Transport refers to walking, cycling, and animal-drawn transport as well as skateboarding, in fact, any form of transport that doesn’t use an engine. “The term does not refer to cycling alone, and NMT infrastructure is not built for bicycles only,” he said. “This is why we are happy to see how many school learners and others are using the lanes every day to safely get around.”

Cllr Elizabeth Thompson said that similar infrastructure has been built in other disadvantaged communities such as Belhar, Athlone, and Gugulethu, and that the City had spent R300m on NMT infrastructure city wide.

She also said that while the lanes were mostly used by pedestrians and scholars, it could also be that the many cycling residents of Khayelitsha were not aware that bicycles were permitted on the lanes – and that the visit aimed to raise awareness that these are not traditional sidewalks where bicycles are unwelcome, she explained. The high cost of bicycles in South Africa also prevents many would-be cyclists in poorer areas from riding a bicycle as transport, suggested.

The visit formed part of the City’s ongoing, broader strategy to reduce road fatalities and public safety, which includes the restructuring of urban public space to promote a feeling of safety and security in the area.  The public space project was part of the Expanded Public Works Programme, making use of local labour and sub-contractors with accredited training.

“It is not only about better walking and cycling facilities, but about a liveable and vibrant community environment,” says Tukushe. “These public squares are already showing great success – there are bus stops, trading areas, elderly people and young kids mingling, walking, riding, being together in safer spaces. There are traffic calming measures, improved intersections and thriving economic activity. So our work is not about counting the numbers of cyclists, but seeing an improvement in the way people are able to inhabit public space.”



GoMetro, Metrorail’s mobile info service, looks back on its first 30 days in action

Thirty days ago, as part of Metrorail’s “Programme of Action” initiative, Metrorail Western Cape partnered with South African technology start-up company, mobi.lity, to launch Go Metro – a digital resource for commuters to have more control in their journey when travelling on Metrorail trains in the Western Cape. The first month has seen the mobi-site […]

Giving infrastructure projects a green rating: how to design ‘green’ from the inside out

As we face significant challenges issues such as climate change and global warning, it is clear that the engineering profession has a significant part to play in influencing the future of our planet. Whatever we may think about environmental responsibility, we can be sure of this: that we all need, and will continue to need, […]

Fuel-cell cargo bike could power your lights and TV too

Locally designed hydrogen-powered tricycle – named ‘A hi Fambeni’, Xitsonga for ‘Let’s go’ – has attracted much attention since its 2010 launch in South Africa as a sustainably powered goods-to-market vehicle for rural areas. It’s also an entry into the international SMART Mobility EnterPrize competition, which aims to identify existing and emerging sustainable mobility business […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: