20 Oct 2022 TRANSPORT MONTH 2022
Help make South Africa’s roads safe for cyclists, pedestrians, and children.
Transport Month in South Africa has been celebrated every October since 2005. It’s an opportunity to talk about what works and does not work and how we can do better in this key sector. Good transport policy that is implemented can improve lives and livelihoods, and help address the pressing needs of our times, from social inequality to climate change and road safety.
Make space for cyclists.
Most households in South Africa do not own a private vehicle and rely on public transport and non-motorised transport (walking and cycling) to get around. But in many cities, our often-impressive road networks are not designed to take the needs of pedestrians and cyclists into account.
As we emerge from Covid-19 and take stock, increasing competition for scarce road space and lapsed maintenance has made our roads less safe for all. Pedestrians and cyclists are particularly vulnerable and in the event of an accident are invariably the injured party.
Says PPA CEO Neil Robinson, “Better policy and more enforcement can help make our roads safer, but so can driver behaviour. This is where we can all make a difference without relying on government to take charge. Everyone can play a role by recognising that we must share the roads responsibly”.
Stay Wider of the Rider
As more South Africans turn to cycling, as a clean, affordable, accessible and healthy way of getting around, expect to see more of us on the roads. Best practice internationally highlights the need to give cyclists a wide berth of between 1m and 1,5m when overtaking. In the words of the Pedal Power Association’s popular slogan this means: “stay wider of the rider”. As congestion increases, this becomes more important and we call on all drivers to be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians.
“We know that South Africans experience heightened stress and tension on our roads when traffic builds up, particularly in the morning and evening peaks, and some drivers make risky choices – like jumping red lights. Cyclists and pedestrians, particularly children are most at risk, and can’t always anticipate how motorists will behave,” says Robinson.
“Take extra care at intersections and on roads where there is no dedicated lane for cyclists (most roads in SA). And always remember to share the road.”
Look out for delivery bikes
Online shopping and deliveries increased dramatically over the pandemic and are here to stay. Many of these services are now provided on motorbikes and increasingly electric bikes, which take up less space than cars, but are also more vulnerable.
With petrol prices continuing to rise bicycles and other micro-mobility vehicles are playing a much greater role in the local service economy. In the UK, new policy encourages the use of e-cargo bikes for ‘last mile’ deliveries. These reduce the number of large vehicles on congested roads, bring down emissions and lessen the parking challenges. South African cities can learn from this and plan for more micro-mobility deliveries as congestion builds up on our roads once more.
Build safe infrastructure for all
In the current tough economy, infrastructure budgets are under pressure. But committed budgets are in place for maintenance and some capital spend. Some of these investments will only take place once every few decades, making the choices made now, even more important.
Municipalities and developers have a responsibility to think long term and future-proof infrastructure to meet the needs of the next generation. Planning for cars only is bad for people and the planet. PPA calls on stakeholders and citizens to scrutinise and comment on development applications to make public and private developments welcoming places for pedestrians and cyclists and the generations to come.
Taking small steps to achieve big changes
The Pedal Power Association works with government, citizens, and civil society to help create a cycling South Africa. Founded in 1976, PPA is a public benefit organisation committed to promoting cycling and the interests of cyclists. As part of our advocacy programmes, commuter and recreational cycling (on- and off-road), development through cycling, safe cycling and access to bicycles are among our priorities.
The Association came into being as a result of the running of the first Cycle Tour that was to develop into the now world-famous annual Cape Town Cycle Tour (previously the ‘Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour’).
For more information visit our website: https://pedalpower.org.za/