Quad bikes on the pass

2007-11-26 00:00

ONE of the attributes of a true entrepreneur is the wherewithal to seize an opportunity and to make it profitable.

This is precisely what some intrepid fellows in the Underberg area did some years ago when they decided to run quad bike trips up and down Sani Pass.

Not that quads were foreign to Sani Pass, as many a rider had ascended the pass since these four-wheel motorobikes were produced.

The difference was in the skill level and familiarity with a machine that, in the wrong hands, is potentially lethal. Previously, only riders with some skill would knowingly attempt Sani Pass on a quad; now visitors who had never been on a quad were enticed to exploit the opportunity to traverse the pass.

To overcome the small problem of novices piloting a quad, the operators offered a spot of tuition to their excited, but nervous guests. The 30-minute training, they maintain, is sufficient, as the quads apparently have automatic gearboxes and are fairly simple to operate. Also, they claim, a rider palpably incapable will not be allowed on a self-ride quad. Their option is a ride in a Rhina, essentially a quad on steroids that resembles a golf cart, that is supposed to lead quad trips up the pass.

It’s the rather blasé contention about the appropriateness of the training that divides those for and against these quads. Those against recount encounters with inexperienced riders, numerous accidents, not to mention the odd tragic death.

To protect themselves from any liability, the operators make their guests sign a document to indemnify them against any possible damages or injury.

Legally speaking, though, quads are not licensed to operate on a public road — such as the road to and including Sani Pass — which probably challenges the legitimacy of any indemnity signed by a guest. The same probably goes for the legality of running a commercial operation of this sort on a public road.

But until the authorities stop turning a blind eye to these offences, these operators will continue to exploit the lack of enforcement and run quads on a public road.

Silent noise

SO, while the motor industry continues to hurl automotive monstrosities such as the Hummer at a tiring market, the Koreans have stolen a march on the first-tier manufacturers in the race for commercial fuel cell viability.

Hyundai’s Tucson fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) beat teams from Daimler AG, GM and Nissan in this year’s Challenge Bibendum in Shanghai to finish as the only vehicle with a perfect score.

Challenge Bibendum, created by Michelin in 1998, is a competition that aims to promote sustainable road mobility that covers four performance test parameters: noise, fuel efficiency, pollutants and CO2 emissions.

Paint for power

FOUR ecumenical organisations have joined forces in a T-shirt campaign that will be launched on Wednesday, November 28, at 3 pm at the city hall.

People are invited to write messages about gender violence on T-shirts that will be strung from the city hall across and down the road on both sides, for members of the public to see.

This event is part of the “16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children”, from yesterday until December 10.

It is organised by the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness, KZN Christian Council, KwaZulu Regional Christian Council and Tugela and Mzinyathi Christian Council.

For more information, contact Pacsa on 033 342 0052 or www.pacsa.org.za

Personal and public

PERSONALISED number plates are worth a study in human identity and image, and would undoubtedly reveal some interesting cult traits. For example, does the number of plates sporting “envy” (nvy, nvee, nv) speak only of a plastic materialism, or does it also say something about contemporary values?

For reasons to do with aspirational mobility, this manifestation of crass consumerism is measured by the modern iconic brand value of BMW, for better or worse.

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