Johannesburg - Cycling and walking are the way to go in future, but there is going to have to be rigid, aggressive traffic enforcement and a change in the mindset of motorists.
Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi says the plan is to make cycling the new “cool” method of transport, and to change the perception that people should buy cars as soon as they can afford to.
And strict traffic enforcement to ensure cyclists’ safety has to be implemented if this is to be successful.
This is the plan for the Gauteng roads and transport department, which held an indaba on Monday to engage all the municipalities within the province to discuss non-motorised transport infrastructure.
This will include a new NMT master plan aimed at integrating all municipal non-motorised transport network plans, commit sustainable sources of funding for NMT, and invest in shared road usage while including cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in the design and maintenance of road projects.
The Gauteng transport commission aims to distribute 3 000 bicycles to scholar transport and create 5km of cycle lanes in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, and 10km in Kaalfontein, Midrand.
Vadi said: “The increased usage of an affordable mode of public transport, especially for low-income residents, will allow learners to get to school safely and in reduced time.
“It will also increase enjoyment of city life with increased mobility options, and this, in turn, will promote healthier populations as exercise becomes an in-built part of daily life.”.
The creation of a dedicated network of high-quality pedestrian and cycling routes would promote social integration among city residents, integrating cycling at public transport nodes by making cycling “cool” through awareness and mindset change, said Vadi.
Technical road standards and planning requirements will be amended to accommodate the cycling and walking paths.
The City of Johannesburg’s infrastructure rollout programme includes Alexandra integrated walking, cycling and public transport projects, improving sidewalks and dedicated cycle lanes linking Longmeadow and Linbro Park to Marlboro station.
The new Rea Vaya routes and the three “Corridors of Freedom” - Turffontein, Empire Road and Orange Grove - are aimed at encouraging NMT by providing work opportunities and shopping facilities close to home.
“These projects will create an environmentally friendly transport system and also eliminate noise pollution,” Vadi said.
The perception that cycling was not safe had to be addressed, he added.
Cyclists believed that they were vulnerable because motorists tended not to be aware of them. They were often treated as nuisances on the road, with little regard paid to their status as road users with equal rights.
There were many obstacles to overcome, such as cultural attitudes towards buying a car and safety, Vadi added.