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KwaZulu-Natal - The dedicated cycling lanes that were introduced to improve cyclists’ safety were not enough and more needed to be done, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said on Tuesday.
He was responding to renewed calls from the cycling fraternity for a law to be passed making it compulsory for motorists to keep a distance of 1.5m away from cyclists.
The outcry followed the death of Olympic cyclist Burry Stander last week who was hit by a taxi while cycling at Shelly Beach on the South Coast.
Ncalane said the number of deaths on South Africa’s roads, especially those involving cyclists, was a serious concern.
“The department will support any initiative that seeks to curb this,” he added.
The proposed law would be discussed and assessed as to whether or not it would be easy for motorists to comply with and for authorities to monitor.
The Western Cape-based cycling organisation, Pedal Power Association began campaigning for this legislation more than a year ago.
Interest waned but over the past few days petitions demanding the newly named “Burry Gap” be written into law have again been circulating. These petitions were expected to be handed over to MECs around the country in upcoming weeks.
In the Western Cape plans to implement the law by mid-year are already in place, but the member of the mayoral committee for transport at the City of Joburg, Rehana Moosajee, said there were no plans “for now” to implement the Burry Gap.
However, she said, plans to ensure safer cycling would be “ramped up”.
“It's not like this has been a response to the Burry Stander (incident), it’s something the city has been engaged with for some time,” said Moosajee.
She said the city planned to complete dedicated cycle lanes in some areas, create a “cycle map”, which would show safe cycling routes, and host events in which roads were closed to traffic except for cyclists and pedestrians.
She would continue to meet cycling groups to further discuss safety and improve the relationship between cyclists and her department.
Last year, the Western Cape government passed the Provincial Road Traffic Bill in the legislature which allowed the MEC for Transport and Public Works, Robin Carlisle, to introduce a Burry Gap into traffic regulations.
These regulations are being drafted and should be published later this month, according to the Western Cape Transport and Public Works spokesman, Siphesihle Dube. Once they have been published, the regulations would have to go through legislative and public participation processes.
Dube said it was difficult to estimate a date for when it would be implemented, but said they expected it to be “mid-year”.
The national Department of Transport’s spokesman, Tiyani Rikhotso, failed to respond to queries as to whether there are plans to implement a Burry Gap nationally. - The Mercury