Ismail Vadi. Photo: Provided
Gauteng MEC of Transport, Ismail Vadi, launched the Johannesburg commuter bicycle map 2015 together with Johannesburg Urban Cyclists Association last week Saturday. He spoke to Wits Vuvuzela about cycling. He believes that the new maps are an invaluable contribution to making Johannesburg cycling friendly.
How does cycling contribute to the development of the province?
The Johannesburg Urban Cycling Association’s (JUCA) map promotes non-motorized transport in the city of Johannesburg. It provides a user-friendly guide to cyclists to travel in the city and suburban areas using routes that have been carefully selected and tested by cyclists themselves. If more people take to cycling to get around the city, or to work and back home, it will help to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in Johannesburg.
Do you think citizens of Johannesburg will adopt this initiative?
I am confident that the roads and transport division in the city will support this innovative work by installing the necessary signage on the selected cycling routes. I hope many more students will take to it to get to campus and back home. Road safety remains a challenge for all be it motorists, pedestrians or cyclists.
You advocate for cycling. Do you cycle from/to home and work?
I enjoy cycling and have participated in the 94.7 cycle challenge in the past three years. I do not cycle to work.
Is cycling among your top priorities?
Yes, it is. The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport has set a target that in the next five years each city in our province should have 50 kilometers of pedestrian and cycling lanes.
What is the growth plan for cycling lanes in Gauteng?
Each year the department sets aside some funding for the construction of pedestrian and cycling lanes, particularly in townships. We are pleased that cities such as Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni are now providing dedicated cycling lanes for daily use by residents.
In light of the start of Johannesburg cycle week there is a difference in opinion between public transport and cyclists
COMMUTERS: Cyclists want consequences to be enforced when vehicles are parked in cycling lanes. Photo: Rafieka Williams
Johannesburg Cycle week starts today, but whether or not cycling in Braamfontein is a sensible option for commuters is in question.
This week will be used as a way to educate commuters about the use of cycling lanes. But taxi drivers and bus drivers, are complaining about the space that lanes take up on the roads in Braamfontein.
“It’s disturbing because it makes the roads smaller”
Luka Sibiya (59) who has been driving buses for 25 years said, “It’s an interruption because you stand here for one hour but you won’t see a single person riding a bike.” He added, “Now we have to stop in the middle of the road and that is going to hold up traffic.”
“It’s disturbing because it makes the roads smaller,” said 33-year-old taxi driver, Sifiso Thwala. He thinks the lanes are unnecessary and that it threatens taxi drivers’ job security because people will want to cycle instead of taking taxis.
Making Johannesburg a more cycle friendly city
Cyclist Mehita Iqani of the Johannesburg Urban Cycling Association (JUCA) believes that Braamfontein is an ideal place for cycling lanes. According to Iqani the lanes provide a protective space for cyclists on the road. When asked about other commuters who don’t respect the cycling lanes, she said “they’re not interested in sharing the road … Cars that park in the lanes need to stop doing that”.
Simphiwe Ntuli of Johannesburg Road Agency said the reason for the lanes were on the basis that there are a large number of students who cannot afford public transport and don’t have their own cars.
“As the City of Johannesburg, our strategy is to educate our community with one on one talks and leaflets” said Ntuli. The next step would be to enforce the rules of the road said Ntuli, “if you park on the lane you get a nice big fine.”