Bikers across SA in e-toll protests
For years mainstream South African motorcyclists stayed out of the simmering toll-road debate, even though it was patently unfair that they were, in almost every case, being charged the same for a bike with two people on it as a 4x4 double-cab loaded with the whole family, the in-laws and the Weber braai, towing a six-metre, 180kW powerboat with a bigger engine than most motorcycles.
But e-tolling, because of its invasive nature and the knowledge that so much more of its income will go to investors in Austria than towards on the roads it was ostensibly invented to pay for, has a way of making people re-evaluate their position.
Then, when Sanral started making noises about tolling the two existing major routes in and out of greater Cape Town, suddenly it wasn’t a Gauteng problem any more, and Bikers Against e-Tolls was born, first in Johannesburg and spreading rapidly across the country.
The 14 September BAT ride was only the second in Cape Town, but it marked an unprecedented solidarity in two-wheeled opposition to e-tolling. It was one of nine planned runs across the country, aimed at bringing home as much to four-wheeled motorists as to Sanral that mainstream riders are getting revved up about being charged for riding on roads they’ve already paid for with a punitive fuel levy.
Despite threatening weather and a last-minute problem with provincial authorities over permission to ride the planned route, nearly 60 motorcyclists, on bikes of all shapes and sizes, turned out for a problem-free ride which - not entirely by accident - took in a number of the roads Sanral is planning to toll, to a biker-friendly pub in Montague Gardens.
Given that the same thing was happening in at least eight other places across the country, maybe it is time for Sanral to sit up and take note.