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Table View Cycle Path Launch

Table View Cycle Path Launch

The new walking and cycling lane between Cape Town and Blouberg was officially opened on Tuesday 1 February.

The occasion was attended by some 300-odd smiling cyclists, who discovered that the new route provides a traffic-free alternative to using Marine Drive. It took some 40 minutes to leisurely pedal the 8km from Woodbridge Island to the Civic Centre.

NMT West Coast

The path starts at Dolphin Beach and provides a dedicated, separate cycle lane all the way to Woodbridge Island. From there the path stays on the seaward side of the road until the Lagoon Beach Hotel. It then moves inland to meander through some quiet sections of Paarden Island, before going underneath the freeway to follow the railway line into town.

At this stage the lane ends some 500m from the Civic Centre, but the City is in the process of building the next section of the NMT route to link through to the CBD.

NMT Paarden Island

“The Pedal Power Association is delighted with the completion of the first 15 km stretch between Table View and the City centre,” said PPA Chairman Steve Hayward. “It is, in part, the realization of why the Cycle Tour was started more than 30 years ago. The Association not only aims to promote cycling as a recreational activity, but also as a means of commuting. In addition, we strive to improve conditions for cyclists with particular regard for their safety. We look forward to the completion of many similar initiatives being constructed across the greater Cape Town area in the not too distant future.”

“Bicycles are good for people as well as the environment,” said Andrew Wheeldon, director of the Bicycling Empowerment Network. “They bring health, mobility, independence and social cohesion. We can build friendly, cohesive environments which allow people to move slowly and freely amongst one another, in a manner that allows us all to really get in touch with where we are, and who we live and move amongst. It is amazing how insular we have all become in South Africa, compared to cities where which experience large bicycling populations, such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London. In many of these large cities, people meet and greet on the streets and connect with one another. They smile at intersections, with the business executive on a R30 000 bike and the labourer on a R250 bike greeting as equals, both going about their daily lives under their own pedal power.

Importantly, we also need bike lanes, in much the same way that we need sidewalks for pedestrians. One of the biggest reasons for not cycling is that there simply are not enough safe facilities. The City of Cape Town is now addressing this, and this is to be applauded, wholeheartedly.”

The launch celebrated the completion last month of a 15km stretch of NMT lanes between Blouberg/Table View and the central city. These lanes run parallel to the new red MyCiTi bus lanes, which will be launched soon. Similar NMT lanes are to be built along MyCiTi bus lanes across the city, as the system unfolds. A network of smaller lanes will connect up these major routes, resulting in a network covering all of Cape Town. This is part of a far-reaching plan by the City’s NMT planners, aiming to allow people to cycle across Cape Town from any one destination to any other.

In the central city, NMT lanes are under construction in the central city along Adderley, Shortmarket and Somerset roads. In addition, new urban cycling and walking paths have already been built in along the Liesbeek River, and in Athlone, Gatesville, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Nyanga and Philippi.

SOME LOGISTICS AROUND COMMUTING

What about your work clothes? The best way of getting your clothes to the office is to attach bike racks and panniers to your bike. Put your clothes in one pannier and your food for the day in the other. The panniers mean that you even have enough space to do a bit of shopping on the way home! Alternatively, get a small backpack.

You could even take some spare clothes to work by car and leave it at the office, so that you do not have to carry (many) clothes with you on the day. Commute for three days and use your car on the other two.

If your office does not have shower facilities, take some soap and a face cloth and small towel and have a “wash basin shower” before you change into your work clothes.

SAFE CYCLING TIPS

  • Always wear a helmet. Apart from it being South African law since 2004, you never know when a dog runs out in front of you or a car or bus cuts a corner in front of you and causes a fall. Buy the best helmet you can afford.
  • Be visible: Most cyclists get killed riding on the wrong side of the road or because they were not visible. Always have a steady white light on the front of your bike and a flashing red rear light between sunrise and sunset, and wear reflective kit.
  • Obey the traffic rules: ALWAYS STOP AT RED TRAFFIC LIGHTS AND ALL STOP STREETS. And even if the light is green for you to cross at an intersection, look out for motorists or other road users jumping the lights.
  • Ride in single file, unless you are overtaking.
  • Ride defensively but decisively: Follow the K53 principles and keep a clear space around you. Make it easy for a driver to anticipate what you are going to do (like intending to stop your bicycle, turning left or right, etc) so that he/she can act accordingly. Ride in a straight line without swerving unnecessarily from side to side.
  • Indicate your intentions, and check if the driver has seen you. Preferably get the driver to acknowledge you before turning in front of that vehicle. A quick smile and a “thank you” wave work wonders.
  • Wear gloves. It improves grip on the handlebars, and may save some skin should you get into contact with the tar (most cyclists put their hands out to break a fall).
  • Be careful.  Ride as if you are invisible to traffic until you are sure a car has seen you.
  • Do not ride in the gutter or close to parked cars. Be aware of drivers of parked cars suddenly opening a car door. Ride wide and take the lane if it is not safe for a car to pass you. Watch out for glass on the road, cat-eyes, drain covers, oil, sand etc, which can often be found in the far left of the gutter.
  • Buses and trucks: Watch out for passengers disembarking from buses or taxis and walking around the vehicle without checking for cyclists, or for the draft from a passing bus or truck.
  • Always carry identification with you. Programme the details of your next-of-kin into your cell phone under ICE (In Case of Emergency). Carry your medical aid details with you, if applicable. Have identification both on your bicycle and on your person, should you get separated.
  • Do not use an iPod or phone while riding. You need to be able to hear approaching traffic, or other cyclists who may be warning you about a problem. You cannot do so if you are listening to an iPod! Be sensible, and rather leave the iPod for the gym.