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PPA mourns death of commuter in Muizenberg

PPA mourns death of commuter in Muizenberg

“We were shocked and saddened to hear this morning that a commuter was killed yesterday after being involved in a collision with a minibus taxi on the corners of Prince George Drive and Vrygrond Avenue near Muizenberg,” said Pedal Power Association (PPA) chairman Steve Hayward.

“We understand that a case of culpable homicide has been opened. We further understand that the passenger on the same bicycle was taken to Victoria Hospital for medical treatment and is currently in a stable condition.”

As a protest against the incident, the PPA coordinated a silent protest on the morning of Saturday 6 April at the scene of the incident, and erected a ghost bicycle on the scene (see pics on our Facebook page).

PPA members and concerned cyclists at the silent protest on 6 April

Silent protest at Muizenberg

For the past 18 months, the Pedal Power Association has been actively campaigning to get a law passed in South Africa to make it compulsory for motorists to pass cyclists with a berth of at least 1.5m.

“It is very simple,” Hayward said. “Cyclists stay alive at 1.5m. This practice works well overseas, and in several overseas countries, motorists are indeed deemed guilty if they hit a cyclist, whether the cyclist was at fault or not.

Ghost bike left at the scene

“It is high time that this practice becomes law throughout South Africa, and the PPA will redouble its efforts to fight for the rights of cyclists on South African roads. But more importantly, the law needs to be enforced, and for that we call on the authorities to come onboard. It’s no use to have a law that protects cyclists, but drivers get away with killing cyclists.

“Just look at the logistics: A bicycle weighs a few kilograms. Add the weight of the cyclist. How can that stand up against a car, taxi or bus?

“South African drivers need to learn tolerance, and to share the road space. Take the way in which the fuel price keeps increasing. If you live up to 10 km from your work, cycling is the ideal way to commute to work, with both economic and health benefits thrown in. But that will work only if circumstances change in South Africa so that people feel safe to use the roads.”

According to current laws, bicycles are regarded as vehicles. That means cyclists – whether sports cyclists or commuters – have as much right to be on the roads as a car, taxi or bus. As a road user, the traffic laws need to be obeyed, and that it where cyclists too need to play their part.

No cycling on freeways

Amongst others, cyclists are not allowed to cycle on roads that are designated freeways, yet many of them regularly cycle on the M3/Blue Route or the M5.

“As soon as the blue ‘freeway sign’ is displayed, you are not allowed to cycle on that road until the freeway sign has been cancelled,” Hayward said. “The only time when you are, for instance, allowed to cycle on the Blue Route is during the annual Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour when the outgoing lane is closed to traffic and specific permission has been obtained for cyclists to use the road. Riding within the road shoulder on a freeway does not ‘make it right’ and with cars travelling past at speeds in excess of 100km/h, is an accident waiting to happen for which the cyclists would only be able to blame themselves.”

Petition to include cycling awareness in K53

As part of the PPA’s Safe Cycling campaign, the Association has for the past month been collecting signatures in support of a petition which will be handed to the Department of Transport.

“Our National Department of Transport is committed to getting more people to ride bicycles safely. This is one of the objectives of the national Non-Motorised Transport Policy of 2008. The importance of this policy and its benefits to the future generations of this country cannot be over-emphasised,” Hayward said.

Through non-motorised transportation we are ensured an opportunity to improve quality of lives, energy conservation and a safe sustainable environment for future generations to come. However, one of the main reasons why more people do not cycle, is because they are afraid of being injured or killed by a motorized vehicle. The PPA is therefore calling for improvements to be made to the K53 Manual and Driving License Test to make bicycle awareness a core part of driver training and testing, with emphasis on how much space to give cyclists, how to safely interact with cyclists at intersections and how to safely overtake cyclists. The petition can be SIGNED HERE.

According to MEC Robin Carlisle, Minister for Transport and Public Works, the “1.5m” passing distance is set to become law in the near future, with the enabling decisions already having been taken by Cabinet.

– By Karin Pohl