Bid for cyclists’ safety

2013-09-30 00:00

JUST 1,5 metres. That’s all it will take to keep cyclists and motorists safe, says the Pedal Power Association (PPA).

And this weekend, Cherise Stander, wife of the late mountain bike champion Burry Stander, was in Cape Town during a PPA Toyota tour to add her voice to calls that the government sign into law the 1,5 m passing distance rule between motorists and cyclists. Burry (25) was cycling in Shelly Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast on January 3 when he was struck by a minibus taxi.

Cherise completed the first leg of the tour — from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein — in honour of Burry, and she was with the group who handed over a petition to the deputy Transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga in Cape Town on Saturday.

“The whole tour has been a highlight for me. The turn-out in Cape Town and the support we have received has been incredible. This initiative is one that is very close to my heart and I am eager to get more involved and help make a difference where I can. This definitely isn’t the end, but only the beginning.”

Having completed nearly 2 000 km over 20 days to raise awareness of the Pedal Power Association’s “Cyclists Stay Alive at 1,5 m” safe cycling campaign, a group of 13 riders of the PPA Toyota Ride for your Life South Africa tour, along with approximately 200 participants of the mass ride, hope their efforts will help keep road users vigilant.

A petition with more than 3 000 signatures gathered throughout the tour was handed over.

Chikunga said it is time to work even harder at protecting both runners and cyclists who use the road networks to do their training. “The proposal of the 1,5 m road space is receiving consideration from both the roads regulations and infrastructure planning units of the Department of Transport. One life lost is one too many. Together we can save more lives,” she said.

The tour started in Johannesburg on September 8. Cyclists pedalled through Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein, Graaff-Reinet, Oudtshoorn, Ladismith and Malmesbury, garnering signatures for the petition and promoting greater tolerance between motorists and cyclists on the country’s roads.

Stephen Hayward, chairperson of the PPA, commented: “Our aim was to reinforce safety and tolerance between drivers and cyclists on South Africa’s roads. We are extremely pleased with the impact the tour has had on motorists, who have shown us great acceptance and support. The encouragement we received from the deputy minister of Transport’s office has been exceptional.”

During each of the three stages of the tour, a “ghost bike” — a bicycle painted white — was erected in memory of cyclists who have been killed on South Africa’s roads.

Kerry Roodt, spokesperson for sponsor Toyota, said they are extremely proud to be associated with such an important cycling initiative. “Over the past few years, safety and appropriate passing distances between vehicles and bicycles has been a major concern for cyclists all over the world, and we are pleased that we can do our bit to promote this worthy cause,” she said.

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