Cognitive dissonance take ‘n’…. National NMT policy vs proposed bicycle trailer ban…

South African Department of Transport’s draft NMT Strategy says: The local transport solutions like animal traction, trailers, handcarts or bicycles could assist poor and rural communities in making them more efficient with small business and domestic duties.” So why are they now trying to ban bicycle trailers from public roads?


Amendment of regulation 311 of the Regulations 68. Regulation 311 of the Regulations is hereby amended by the addition of the following subregulation after subregulation (8): “(9) No person shall ride a pedal cycle on a public road drawing or towing a trailer or anything.”

Transport, the heartbeat of South Africa’ economic growth and social development

We note with concern the above proposed amendments, and suggest that this is not only contrary to the South African Department of Transport’s draft NMT Strategy, but also contrary to our government’s commitment to low-carbon, accessible, affordable, equitable transportation. Further, it is counter-productive within a middle-income country where the overwhelming majority of people rely on non-motorised transport; improving the goods- and passenger/carrying capacity -of non-motorised transport vehicles will not only facilitate the fulfillment of government’s transportation goals but also its goals for job creation, micro-enterprise and community sustainability.

  1. We draw your attention to these particularly relevant sections of the REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA DRAFT NATIONAL NON-MOTORISED TRANSPORT POLICY December 2008 – and believe that the above regulations are contrary to the policy intentions below.
  2. In addition, we draw your attention to one example of African best practice, the development of the life-saving Zambulance trailer.
  3. We highlight the common use and popularity of bicycle trailers internationally. We are aware that a number of bicycle stores in South Africa have within recent years – largely due to South Africa’s stated commitment to improving NMT facilities – begun to import bicycle trailers such as pictured below, and that a number of these importers and stores have submitted objections to the proposed amendments.
  4. We would also like to draw your attention to a number of peer-reviewed publications that note the value and importance of bicycle transport (including bicycle trailers) in alleviating poverty and facilitating improved social equity

“For the past few years the Department of Transport has highlighted the use of non-motorised transport during the October Transport Month activities. This has been done with the full knowledge that some of our people, especially in rural areas, live this experience daily and sometimes throughout their lives.

“This Non Motorised Transport Policy is one of the Department of Transport’s interventions towards reversing challenges of accessibility and mobility. This is indeed a turning point in our country, particularly in our bids and efforts to include and formalize Non- Motorized Transport within our integrated transport system.

“This policy advocates for optimal use of Non-Motorised Transport and bridging the economic and social gaps between urban and rural areas or first and second economies.

The importance of this policy and its benefits to the future generation of this country cannot be overemphasised. Through non motorised transportation we are ensured an opportunity to improve quality of lives, energy conservation and a safe sustainable environment for all future generation to come.

“The primary objectives of this NMT policy are, among others, to increase the role of NMT as one of the key transport mode, integrate NMT as an essential element of public transport, and provide a safe NMT infrastructure and allocate adequate and sustainable funding for the development and promotion of NMT.

“Non-Motorised Transport will be provided on the basis of a number of principles including the need to improve a quality of life, energy conservation and safety.

“Transport is vital to development as it provides accessibility to goods, services, jobs, educational opportunities, family, social settings and economic activities. Without viable transportation, the quality of life does not improve and poverty is prolonged. The effects of inefficient transport systems in rural parts of Africa, which rely on non-motorised transport in its most basic form, are manifested in a lack of market integration, poor provision of education and health services, low productivity and low rates of regional and local economic activity.

“Transport systems developed in developed countries may not fit well with the safety needs of low income and middle-income countries for a variety of reasons, including the differences in traffic mix. In developing countries, walking, cycling, motorcycling and the use of public transport are the predominant transport modes. In developed countries, car ownership is high, and most road users are vehicle occupants. Despite the growth in motorised transport in developing countries such as South Africa, a large portion of the population depends on non-motorised forms of transport, and this will continue for some time. Walking is the cheapest, least space consuming and the most economical means of transport for short distances.

“The local transport solutions like animal traction, trailers, handcarts or bicycles could assist poor and rural communities in making them more efficient with small business and domestic duties.’

[We’ll upload the remainder of our comments in a separate blog entry…}



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  1. FWJ-I operate a mobility scooter,and have spent money in making my trailer and scooter highly visible,and now cant tow a trailer?who do these lawmakers think they are,making it impossible for any1 now to have a livelihood,just plain pathetic,i use it as ive claudication,arterial fibrillation,no license required mobility scooter,i need it for my shopping,its plain ridiculous

    • I don’t think this regulation will be passed at all – we sent in numerous objections and I know it has gone back to the Task Team. So I must follow up – thanks for reminder 🙂

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