City of Cape Town Traffic Bylaw 2011 – what (if anything) does it mean for bicycles?

A new bylaw to reduce road fatalities as well as improve the management of all public transport vehicles and interchanges has been passed by the City of Cape Town. The bylaw, called the [City of Cape Town Traffic Bylaw 2010] ‘provides for the regulation of public transport vehicles and traffic within the area of jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town’.

It’s not about cycling, but I thought it would be interesting to read the City’s definitions of ‘vehicles’, as this determines to a great extent the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.

So far so good: a “driver” means any person who drives or attempts to drive any vehicle or who rides or attempts to ride any pedal cycle or who leads any draught, pack or saddle animal or herd or flock of animals…

But then it gets a bit more confusing:

“motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle and includes— (a) a trailer; and
(b) a vehicle having pedals and an engine or an electric motor as an integral part thereof or attached thereto and which is designed or adapted to be propelled by means of such pedals, engine or motor, or both such pedals and engine or motor, but does not include—
(i) any vehicle propelled by electrical power derived from storage batteries and which is controlled by a pedestrian; or
(ii) any vehicle with a mass not exceeding 230 kilograms and specially designed and constructed, and not merely adapted, for the use of any person suffering from some physical defect or disability and used solely by such person.

Does this mean that an electric bicycle is a ‘motor vehicle’ – and therefore requires a licence? But has all the other privileges of a motorised vehicle? And what type of motor vehicle is propelled by pedals?

OK, this is pretty clear: “non-motorised vehicle” means a vehicle or device utilised for land road based transport for the conveyance of goods or passengers, which is propelled either, solely by animal power or by human power or a combination of human power, assisted by an alternative source of power or provided by any form of fossil fuel…

Actually, is it that clear? A vehicle ‘utilised’…’ for the conveyance of goods or passengers’. What about bicycles designed to convey only the ‘driver’? This doesn’t fit into the definiton above?

It seems as if the matter of ‘driving’ on road shoulders is cleared up… I recall an article in Bicycling magazine in 2008, which maintained that it is illegal for a cyclist (as a defined ‘driver’) to ride on the shoulder. This clarifies it, I think – depending on whether cyclists fall into the definition of ‘driver’ here – cars and bicycles may be ‘driven’ on the shoulder if they’re being overtaken, and that’s almost always the case with a bicycle [except down Ou Kaapse Weg at rush hour, when it’s easy to overtake around 40 cars in a few minues ;-)]
Driving on shoulders 34. (1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall drive a motor vehicle on the shoulder of a public
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the driver of a motor vehicle may, during the period between sunrise and sunset, drive such motor vehicle on the shoulder of a public road which is designated for one lane of traffic in each direction—
(a) (b)
while such motor vehicle is being overtaken by another vehicle;
if he or she can do so without endangering himself or herself, other traffic, pedestrians or property on such public road; and
if persons and vehicles upon a public road are clearly discernible at a distance of at least 150 metres.

The Bylaw also prohibits driving and using a cell phone, which I suspect includes cycling and texting/talking…

So, let’s see…



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  1. Michael Wood says:

    To answer your question about motor vehicles being propelled by pedals, see this:

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