11 Mar PPA says: Cyclists Stay Alive at 1.5m
“We are pedalling to support PPA’s CYCLISTS STAY ALIVE AT 1.5m safety campaign,” said a peloton of eighty cyclists who started the 2013 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour today.
The peloton, all wearing their distinctive 1.5m safe cycling jerseys, made a highly visible yellow-and-red splash in the start chutes this morning.
Within the group were, amongst others, the oldest female participant in the 2013 Cycle Tour, Clare Graaff; PPA Chairman Steve Hayward; and various high-profile local businessmen and –women. Also seen on the starting line were Janet Moss and Marje Hemp, who were both participating in the Cycle Tour for the 30th time.
For the past 16 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,” said Hayward. “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.
“It is high time that this practice becomes law throughout South Africa, and the PPA will continue with its efforts to fight for the rights of cyclists on South African roads until this has happened. But more importantly, the law needs to be enforced, and for that we call on the authorities to come onboard.
“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 road users need to learn tolerance, and to share the road space. With the continued rise in fuel price, cycling is the ideal way to commute to work if you live up to 10km from your 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 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.
Under South African law, 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 and indeed do not need to keep to the far left of the road. However, as a road user, traffic laws need to be obeyed by cyclists, as the case with all other road user.
“We would like to urge motorists to continue giving cyclists a wide berth on an ongoing basis,” said Hayward. “In particular, motorists should be extra vigilant around commuters or kids who may not have the same bicycle handling skills as sports cyclists; in very windy conditions; or in areas with potholes and debris on the road which may cause cyclists to swerve. We also urge cyclists to ride responsibly and obey traffic laws; to ride in a predictable manner; and to be as visible as possible through wearing brightly coloured clothing and by fitting lights to their bicycles.”
“The PPA and the Rotary Club of Claremont are the beneficiaries of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust who organises, amongst others, the annual Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour. The PPA uses any profits received in this way to run the Association and to fund cycling projects that fit in with our Constitution. In this way, PPA has allocated over R8 million to cycling projects in the last four years,” Hayward said. PPA launched the 1.5m Safe Cycling campaign in 2011 and, to date, has allocated over R2m to this campaign.
Cyclist 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.