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The number of commuter and recreational cyclists on Cape Towns roads have increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemicWith the Cape Town Cycle Tour less than six weeks away, many cyclists are out preparing for this iconic world cycling event. Cyclists are vulnerable road users and when motorists forget to share the road with cyclists, pedestrians and other road users fatal crashes can happen.

The 2021 Cape Town Cycle Tour comes as South Africa is emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. After months of lockdown more cars are on the roads and traffic is slowly reverting to its pre-pandemic levels. This calls for all motorists to be vigilant and help safeguard the lives and safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

“The road is a shared space where all road users have rights and responsibilities” reminds Steve Hayward, chairman of the Pedal Power Association. “Cycling is an important part of life in Cape Town – a growing number of us depend on it as a form of transport, while others enjoy their leisure time on a bike. The Cape Town Cycle Tour is an international event hosting cyclists from around the world and the country. As we welcome them back to Cape Town we call on all Capetonians to help us make this a memorable and safe Cycle Tour.”

The Tour, which takes place on 10 October 2021, will see half the normal entrants, with around 18 000 cyclists. It supports our tourism industry and the many jobs it creates and prior to Covid-19 contributed an estimated R500 million annually to Cape Town’s economy. 

“As the Pedal Power Association we seecycling as an important part of South Africa’s transport solution” says Hayward. “Our ‘Stay Wider of the Rider’ campaign asks drivers and cyclists to take steps to avoid incidents. In South Africa, bicycles are bound by the same laws, and courtesies as motor vehicles. Being considerate and alert on our roads is all our responsibility.  For drivers, the key thing is to give cyclists space when overtaking them, or wait until you can safely do so”. 

The Pedal Power Association reminds motorists to be on the lookout for cyclists and to avoid crashes by applying the following rules:

  • When turning left, indicate early that you are turning and always check behind your vehicle on your left for cyclists proceeding straight that you may cut off as you turn;
  • Don’t underestimate the speed of a cyclist approaching from the opposite direction, and don’t attempt to turn quickly in front of them. Cyclists travel at up to 30km/hour and even faster on a downhill;
  • Do not pass cyclists unless it is safe to do so. If having to wait behind cyclists a short hoot will alert them to your presence;
  • Give cyclists at least the internationally accepted 1.5m space when passing, and even more in wet weather. Cyclists may have to swerve unexpectedly to avoid an obstacle such as glass or a manhole that you as a motorist may not see;
  • Look out for cyclists before opening your door and exiting your car;
  • Do not park or stop in cycle lanes. It is illegal and puts cyclists in danger when passing your vehicle.
  • Always obey the rules of the road

For cyclists remember the following safety tips:

  • Be visible: Wear bright clothing so that drivers can see you. Avoid cycling before sunrise and after sunset, but if you do ride after dark, always wear reflective gear and switch on your lights for extra visibility;
  • When turning, signal to drivers and make eye contact when possible. Ride in a straight, predictable line so that you don’t take drivers by surprise;
  • Check your bike: Before heading out, check your tyre pressure, and brakes to prevent a malfunction that could jeopardise your safety;
  • Ride in groups if possible: More cases of muggings and bike jackings are being reported daily. Connect with other cyclists on Whatsapp for your safety and join Pedal Power’s group training rides on Saturdays.
  • Avoid riding in the early morning. Many fatal hit-and-run crashes take place between 04h00 and 07h00. Also, avoid riding into the rising or setting sun – drivers may not see you.
  • If you can, wear an ICE (in case of emergency) bracelet (supplied free to PPA members) or have some form of ID with you when out cycling. ICE bracelets have an emergency number should you need medical attention. Having ID also makes it easier to contact your next of kin if you are riding alone.
  • Don’t use your cell phone: It is illegal and unsafe, rather stop to take or make a call in an area safe to do so.
  • Report accidents and muggings to the SA Police Services and the Pedal Power Association PPA is building a database of dangerous areas to help improve safety and security.
  • Avoid hotspot areas if cycling alone. Lone cyclists are easy targets for criminals.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Riding with earphones is illegal and reduces awareness of what is happening around you.
  • Practice extra caution when approaching intersections and don’t assume drivers will stop at traffic lights or stop streets. Rather slow down than be involved in an incident.
  • Ride in single file and always obey the rules of the road.