Govt: More infrastructure for walkers

2012-08-03 21:23

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Midrand - Government has neglected building infrastructure for walkers and cyclists and this must change, an environmental affairs official said on Friday.

"[The] interests of non-motorised travellers tend to be systematically neglected in investment, network management and infrastructure," said director general Nosipho Ngcaba.

"What does this indicate? We are not responsive to the needs of our citizens."

Ngcaba was speaking at the Green Cities conference at Gallagher Estate in Midrand.

Ngcaba cited statistics that 90% of pupils in rural areas walked to school. More than half of people in rural areas also walked to work.

Walking, bicycling common in other countries

She said government would seek to invest in non-motorised transport that would provide quality, safe travel to both cyclists and walkers.

Citing the same statistics, Ngcaba said only about 8.7% of people in urban areas walked to work.
Walking and bicycling were more common in other countries.

She said city planning in South Africa had resulted in "spatial distortion" that left most of the nation's citizens living outside urban areas from both services and places of work.

As a result, people had to travel long distances and use "unreliable, unsafe and fragmented public transport".

"This has created a situation of an unsustainable reliance on motor vehicles and the tendency for many of our citizens to purchase cars as soon as they are able to afford them," Ngcaba said.

She said this situation had led to unprecedented traffic congestion in SA cities.

Ngcaba said the DEA and Department of Transport would be making new efforts to build infrastructure for non-motorised transport, including the construction of pavements and bike paths.

Municipal officials encouraged to cycle

This would be done with funding from the German KfW Development Bank.

DEA director of policy co-ordination Jenitha Budal said three cities - Durban, Johannesburg and Polokwane - were already introducing plans to make urban areas friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists, with the help of R50m from KfW as well as their own funding.

She said Durban was the most advanced and was building pavements and bike paths alongside roads.

The City was also launching a programme to encourage municipal officials to cycle between offices in the municipality, instead of driving.

Johannesburg's efforts are focused on Soweto and building pavements and bike paths on feeder roads around the Bus Rapid Transit System.
Read more on:    environment

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