Awareness raised about cycling

2019-09-05 06:00
Zanele Mabaso of Sonke Gender Justice talking to the audience during the Mobile Women event. PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

Zanele Mabaso of Sonke Gender Justice talking to the audience during the Mobile Women event. PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

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In an attempt to celebrate Women’s Month members of Uber and Cape Town’s bicycle mayor and Open Streets Cape Town have teamed up to host a dialogue and bike ride to raise awareness about the challenges women in the country face when cycling. The event was called Mobile Women and was held at Ikhwezi Community Centre in Gugulethu on Saturday 31 August.

Acting managing director of Open Streets Cape Town, Rebecca Campbell described the event as very informative particularly to women cyclists because it is addressed their challenges.

“We believe there is great potential in bringing people together to share their experiences and knowledge, especially when they cycle through the streets that are public spaces and belong to everyone,” said Campbell. Creating an environment that is safe and welcoming for women to cycle will result in a city that is safer for everyone, she added.

She said a lot of work has been done globally to tackle the challenges women face when moving around in urban spaces. She said another challenge is infrastructure which makes it difficult to cycle.

“Every time you are going out in the streets you are risking your life because there are no cycling lanes.

“But, instead of sitting down and doing nothing it’s better to act now so that the City can see that we really need cycling lanes,” she said.

She added that according to the 2018 crime statistics approximately one-third of women feel uncomfortable going to open spaces or parks. They fear of getting robbed, harassed or murdered.

However, the policy development and advocacy coordinator for Sonke Gender Justice, Zanele Mabaso, said cycling is often a skill many South African women do not have the opportunity to learn and even if they do the road environment is hostile and a risky space to navigate as vulnerable users.

Cape Town bicycle mayor Lebogang Mokwena said: “Increasing the number of commuting cyclists will ultimately lead to safer and friendlier streets for all.

“The other benefits include decreased vehicle congestion and emissions, reduced household expenditure on transport, micro and macro-economic savings, happier and healthier citizens, and a more sustainable mobility system.”

Some of the organisations that were part of the event were Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN Bikes), Pedal Power Association and Tertiary School in Business Association (TSIBA).

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