Editorial: Cycling tragedy

2186695 INLSA

The death of another cyclist on Cape Town roads – this time a 31-year-old, as yet unnamed until his family is contacted – is both tragic and disturbing.

Most obviously – and immeasurably – it is a tragedy for his family and loved ones, who have lost a young person in their lives, with all the extra pain that an untimely death implies. Our condolences go to them.

It is disturbing partly because cycling deaths have been far too commonplace on our roads over the years. The Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour was launched in 1978 to address this very issue – safety on our roads – but little seems to have changed.

As the tour approaches each March, and more cyclists get out on the roads, there are inevitably more deaths through these accidents.

To be fair to the various authorities and cycling organisations involved, there have been many efforts to address the problem.

Most recently these include increasing the cycling path network in the city and a publicity campaign highlighting the need for cars to leave a 1.5m gap when passing a cyclist.

But perhaps most disturbing is the suggestion that all the campaigns and the news coverage of these tragedies have done little to temper a culture on our roads which is laced with aggression.

The details of the recent incident have yet to emerge clearly, but the fact that a bus was involved has already elicited an angry reaction on social networks.

Any road user in Cape Town, and cyclists in particular, will know that there are motorists out there who are extraordinarily intolerant.

Of course, cyclists themselves can be more considerate and mindful of traffic regulations.

But Capetonians might like to ponder the examples of other countries around the world that have embraced the health and economic benefits of cycling, particularly commuting by bicycle.

Cycling on those roads is a pleasure – motorists are respectful and patient, and cyclists are regarded as legitimate road users with the same rights as any other.

Why are we incapable of similar behaviour?


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