The City of Cape Town’s Transport and Urban Development Authority has published a draft Cycling Strategy which aims to increase the percentage of commuter trips made by bicycle from the current 1% to 8% by 2030. Inclusive of the draft strategy is a proposal for a bicycle manufacturing plant in Cape Town.
The City of Cape Town has committed substantial resources over the past eight years to pursuing the vision of a cycling-friendly city. Currently cyclists have access to at least 450 km of cycle lanes across the city, some of which are separate from the road.
‘Although some of these lanes are popular for recreational cycling, we still have not seen the growth in commuter cycling which is required to have a noticeable impact on traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and to improve mobility in the lower-income areas. We evidently need a new approach, together with some key interventions from both the City and the private sector, to realise our goal to increase the percentage of commuter trips by bicycle to 8% within the next 13 years. Our new draft Cycling Strategy which is now available for public comment makes some bold proposals. I invite residents and interested and affected parties to read this document and to submit their suggestions on how we can turn Cape Town into a top cycling city,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA), Councillor Brett Herron.
Last year the TDA’s planning department conducted a status quo assessment of cycling in Cape Town. The research included surveys of cycling movements at 50 locations across the city, an assessment of the available cycle facilities, a review of incident data involving cyclists, and engagements with relevant stakeholders.
‘The available cycling data indicates that approximately 1% of all trips in Cape Town are made by bicycle. In addition, despite the popularity of recreational cycling and participation in cycling events like the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour, the uptake of utility cycling remained stagnant for the past decade,’ said Councillor Herron.
That said, the surveys conducted confirmed that more than 500 utility cyclists cycled to work in the morning peak period.
‘These surveys confirm that commuters either do or will cycle, but that the majority of residents cannot afford bicycles. Given the fact that low-income transport users in Cape Town spend up to 45% of their monthly household income on transport, while the international norm is between 5% and 10%, cycling is an affordable alternative – provided that we improve access to bicycles in these communities,’ said Councillor Herron.
The Cycling Strategy identifies five options to improve access to affordable bicycles, including employer programmes to purchase and maintain bicycles, a bike-share system or a lease scheme for local trips and student travel, donations, and bicycle distribution programmes.
‘Ironically, some of these challenges provide us with a golden opportunity for growing our local economy should we succeed in cultivating a cycling culture. For example, we want to explore the possibility of establishing a bicycle manufacturing plant in Cape Town that can build and provide low-cost bicycles for low-income households. Such an investment and a bike-share system will lead to job creation – but then we need our residents to take to the streets and to start a cycling revolution,’ said Councillor Herron.
Furthermore, the research indicates that there is great potential for increasing the uptake of utility cycling to work, schools, public services, shopping and social amenities across all income groups for trips of 15 km or less.
‘The biggest potential for growing utility cycling lies in bicycle trips to railway and bus stations. Thus, if provided with the necessary facilities for safe storage, we are confident that commuters will use bicycles to ride to the closest public transport station from where they can complete the rest of their commute either by bus or train,’ said Councillor Herron.
Key strategies identified in the draft Cycling Strategy are as follows:
- Improved access to bicycles for lower-income communities is pivotal
- Road safety (traffic) and personal security (crime prevention) along cycling routes must be improved
- The planning, design and provision of cycling lanes must be location-specific, i.e. what works in one area does not necessarily apply in another
- Cycling infrastructure such as cycle lanes, bicycle parking facilities, and storage facilities must be maintained
‘For cycling to become the norm, we need a network of well-designed cycle routes and appropriate cycling infrastructure. Facilities such as lockers, changing areas, and showers for those cycling long distances may be needed and in this regard private employers will play an important role in creating an enabling environment for those who want to cycle to work,’ said Councillor Herron.
The Cycling Strategy proposes that cycle routes must be:
- safe – the route must limit the conflict between cyclists and other road users, in particular along routes where vehicles travel at high speeds
- secure – routes must be located in well-lit and populated areas direct – routes should avoid detours and must be continuous, recognisable and link all major origins and destinations
- comfortable – routes must be well maintained, provide a comfortable non-slip riding surface, and have gentle curves and flat gradients where possible
- attractive – routes must complement their surroundings and contribute to a positive cycling experience
The biggest challenges pertain to improved access to bicycles, ensuring that cycle routes are safe in terms of road safety and crime, and convincing more residents to accept and use cycling as a legitimate mode of transport.
‘Cycling gives commuters more flexibility: they can depart as and when they feel like it and do not have to wait for public transport. It is cheap and a healthy alternative to private vehicles for short trips. Also, we all have to work together to create a more liveable city which is sustainable in terms of protecting our natural environment and where it is relatively easy to move from A to B. As with other forward-thinking cities around the world, it is also our intention to gradually transform Cape Town from a vehicle-centred city to a people-centred city that is conducive to alternative modes of transport such as walking and cycling. I am urging residents and the cycling fraternity to join this very important conversation about how we can achieve this goal,’ said Councillor Herron.
Central to the debate is the need for motorists to accept cycling as a legitimate mode of transport.
‘A mind-shift is needed where we all accept that cyclists are entitled to use the city’s roads and where there is mutual respect among road users. We also want to encourage cycling tourism so that visitors can explore our city on bicycles. The possibilities are infinite,’ said Councillor Herron.
The draft strategy will be available for viewing on www.capetown.gov.za/haveyoursay and copies will be made available at subcouncil offices and City libraries from Monday 23 January 2017.
Residents and interested and affected parties will have the opportunity to submit comments, input or recommendations on the draft Cycling Strategy as from Monday 23 January 2017 to Tuesday 21 February 2017.