Cape Town must become more bicycle orientated

With the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour now upon us, anyone out on the more scenic roads of the Cape Peninsula will have realised that cycling mania is once again in full bloom in this area, says Bill Rawson, Chairman of Rawson Properties.

“It is quite possible,” said Rawson, “that in relation to its total population, Cape Town now has more recreational cyclists (as opposed to commuters) than any other city in the world – but it ranks way behind dozens of European and US cities in its provision of cycle tracks and in its cycling laws.”

Rawson said that cycle tour operators in Europe report crash figures of well under 0,5% annually – and the reason for this, he said, is that in European legislation “is all the side of the cyclist” and forces motorists to respect them – or pay a heavy price when they are taken to court.

“In France the law recognises that a cyclist is in a precarious situation. Accordingly, unless it can be proved that the cyclist acted with the utmost stupidity, any driver whose car hits him will automatically be charged with negligent driving.”

In South Africa, said Rawson, considerable leniency has been shown to drivers who collide with cyclists. However, the recent two year conviction for a driver who killed a Cape cyclist possibly indicates that a new attitude is now about to be adopted. If this is the case, he said, it will be very welcome.

Recreational cycling (especially off-road), said Rawson, is now the fastest growing sport in the world and potentially has huge benefits to reduce the use of petrol and diesel driven cars, gas emissions, traffic congestion and the clogging up of the cities.

“The Cape Town City Council should, I feel be following the examples of London, Stockholm, Vienna, Salzburg and Amsterdam, by making vehicular use in the centre city heavily taxable, by building cycle paths in and out of the cities and by encouraging the installation of showers and bike storage in offices.

“It is illogical to be using two to five ton vehicles to carry single commuters in and out of the city. Cycling should be fostered as the logical way to travel, not just for fun but also for work purposes.”

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