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 :
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
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
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.