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PPA comments on proposed change to traffic regulations

PPA comments on proposed change to traffic regulations

The PPA were alerted yesterday that the Minister is proposing an amendment to outlaw the use of bicycle trailers. The following response was drafted, which was sent to the Minister this morning. Comments are due by 4 July. 

Mr John Motsatsing

Department of Transport

Private Bag X193

Pretoria

0001

by email: motsatsj@dot.gov.za

 

Mr Phillip Magagane

Department of Transport

Privae Bag X193

Pretoria

0001

by email magaganp@dot.gov.za

 

Dear Mr Motsatsing and Mr Magagane

 

Proposed amendment to Road Traffic Regulations: Comment by Pedal Power Association

 

Comment on proposed change to regulation 311

 

We are a voluntary association with approximately 20 000 members advocating the use of bicycles, including cycling as a means of transportation.

 

We object to the proposed Regulation 68 (amending Regulation 311 of the Regulations) prohibiting the use of trailers behind bicycles and wish to comment thereon.

 

We consider the amendment ill-advised and not supported by any empirical facts.  We call on you to provide us with the motivation and any statistics to show that bicycle trailers are unsafe or that there is another reason to ban them.

 

We have extensive experience and knowledge of bicycles with trailers.  The use of bicycle trailers are not inherently dangerous.  In cycling friendly countries the use of bicycle trailers are not prohibited.

 

In many parts of the world, including several African countries, bicycle trailers are used extensively to move not only infants and young children, but also to move cargo.  This creates job opportunities for the poor and is the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation.

 

In South Africa bicycle trailers are often used to move cargo for small enterprises in the poorest of neighbourhoods.  Banning the use of trailers will discourage the upliftment of such poor people.

 

We consider the proposed amendment to be just another piece of anti-cycling legislation.

 

We call on you not to amend Regulation 311 to prohibit the use of trailers behind bicycles.

 

Safe passing distance

 

We call on you to amend the National Road Traffic Regulations to compel motor vehicles to leave a space of at least 1.5 meters when passing cyclists.  Such a provision, or similar provisions, have been enacted any many other countries.  We can provide you with such information should you require it.

 

We are presently funding scientific research through the University of Cape Town as to what distances are left by motorists when they pass cyclists on the road.  Such lesser distances are inherently dangerous and leave no room for environmental factors such as wind or the changing of course to avoid dangers on the road.

 

We call on you to change the regulation in this regard.

 

Compulsory use of helmets by cyclists

 

Regulation 207(2) was amended on 5 October 2004 to require all cyclists to wear helmets.  Countries which see bicycles as an important part of the transport mix (these countries also have the highest percentage of bicycles in the modal split and the best safety records for cyclists) do not require the use of bicycle helmets.

 

The Pedal Power Association supports the use of helmets by its members, but we are against making the use of helmets compulsory by law, as it discourages cycling.

 

Pedal Power Association regularly hands out helmets to cyclists in poor neighbourhoods.  From our experience we can tell you that less than one per cent of poor cyclists use a helmet.  In affluent neighbourhoods and amongst sports cyclists the percentage of helmet use is higher.

 

This requirement in law is largely ignored and should be repealed.

 

We will continue to encourage our members to use helmets at all times and to require them in all events organized by us.  We do object to this unnecessary requirement being imposed on poor people and discouraging them from cycling, which is their most economical way of transportation.

 

We call on you to amend Regulation 207(2) to remove this requirement.

 

Prohibition of cycling two abreast

 

Regulation 311 (2) requires cyclists to ride single file at all times.  Most other countries that we are aware of allow cyclists to ride two abreast.

 

This regulation is unnecessary, as it simply serves to increase anger against cyclists.  This regulation is also contrary to Paragraph 2(b) of Article 16 of the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic 1949, which South Africa has acceded too.  Although the wording is not clear, it also appears to be contrary to Paragraph 1 of Article 27 of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.

 

Conclusion

 

Due to the short time period for comment, we have not been able to put forward a complete representation on changes to the Road Traffic Regulations.  There are a number of respects in which the road traffic regulations are out of line with international best practice and discourage cycling.  These regulations impact (negatively) particularly on the most vulnerable and poor sections of society.

 

We therefore urge you to not implement the proposed change to Regulation 311, and to also implement the other changes set out above.

 

Yours faithfully

Steve Hayward

 

CHAIRMAN

PEDAL POWER ASSOCIATION