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The answer to congestion on our roads

21 February 2013, 19:11

Congestion on our roads: What is the answer?

I opened News24 today and found again the distressing news, “Trucker kills cyclist in Johannesburg” and  next to it :

 Related Links

Cyclist makes fatal mistake

Teen cyclist dies near Durban

Cyclist knocked down in Mbombela

I am sure these accidents are just the top of a small iceberg, most of which are not reported, especially if there were no fatalities.

I was fortunate that over a period of 25 years  during which I commuted to work by bicycle I  have had only four accidents, three of them involving motor vehicles. In only one case do I consider myself fortunate to have sustained only  minor injuries, when  I could have been killed,  had I fallen directly in front of a  car that hit me from behind.

Needless to say the driver sped away.

 I estimate that, during  the 25years,  I  rode  about 250 000km  to and from work, and thus saved approximately R200 000 in the costs of  fuel alone, and if I use the AA statistic of the costs of running a small motorcar at about R2.00/km, the savings amounted to R500 000.

And I reaped the health benefits that comes with regular exercise doing a sport that is gentle on the joints.

I  owe this wholesome experience of cycling to work  in no small measure to  careful route selection, such as to avoid heavy traffic and  picking roads that have an emergency lane or “shoulder”. This I did even if it meant choosing a more hilly route.

I find driving bumper to bumper in heavy traffic a  thoroughly unpleasant and at times nerve racking experience, even if one can while away the wasted time by listening to an interesting broadcast on the car radio or by playing your favourite music from a CD.

Now, the wise management of our city had decided sometime ago that cycle trails that go through open areas and thus do not involve the inevitable cyclist/ motorist/ large truck confrontation is the way to go.

And thus they , maybe as a pilot project, prepared for our use a 16km cycle route that is as safe as can be. It runs from Table View to the very heart of Cape Town.

It has no hills and can therefore be used by the most unaccomplished cyclist.  Unfortunately I have to tell you that I am hugely disappointed in the response of our citizens.

Cycling along there on this fabulous route you encounter only the occsional cyclist and when you look at the vehicles on Marine Drive, that runs right next to it, it is crowded with all manner of motorized traffic and in most passenger vehicles there is seated only a single person; the driver. 

Our City Management must feel rather let down by its citizens, don’t you think?

Go onto the internet and type in Carpool and then pick your city and you will see that all over America (The US of A, now), there are carpools in all the major cities.

Even if the populace cannot overcome poor health that prevents them from cycling, or plain laziness, there is the option to Carpool.

It seems to me that if we cannot even solve the traffic congestion on our roads by using sensible alternatives, the chances that we can solve the complex problems confronting  us, such as having a Government elected on  ethnic grounds rather than competence, are pretty remote.

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