Cape Town - A cycling initiative stands tall as a beacon of hope in Hanover Park, giving the youth of the crime-plagued area a fresh perspective on life.
Hanover Park Bicycles for Change (HPBFC) has, over the past few weeks, grown its numbers as the youth in the area turn to positive influence from the initiative founder, Shaun Weitz.
Weitz, 54, a waterproofer by trade, said he had a love for bicycles since he was very young and had started fixing bicycles in his yard during the lockdown.
“At first, I started with two bicycles that I built from scratch in my yard. I would always fix children’s bikes with parts that I bought from a nearby scrapyard until one day I decided to ask a friend to look out for old bicycle frames for me at the scrapyard.
“He told me I can come have a look and so I bought old frames from there out of my own pocket and would then build the bikes from spares. Very quickly I had then built about 37 bicycles from scratch that I could then give to children in the community,” he said.
Weitz, who admits to having come from a challenging background, said as a network of budding cyclists daily knocked at his Cascade Court home in Hanover Park, he decided to one day take a Sunday drive out with a small group. This has now become a weekly event.
“We started with 20. The following week, I decided to do the same, and suddenly, I had 50 bikes joining for the ride, and the week after, we had grown to 70.
“All the while, these youth would come to my home where they would sit and I would show them how to repair and look after their bicycles. In total, we probably have more than 100 cyclists now. I am just very grateful that this initiative has grown so much that I can now plough back into my community,” said Weitz.
One of the highlights of the initiative was a handover done by Lansdowne business, Mr Cheap, who had come on-board with support for the initiative and kitted 113 cyclists with cycling gear.
“It was very heart-warming to see and I feel very proud that these children have something positive to look forward to in our community,” said Weitz.
Ridwaan Nero, a Mitchells Plain resident, said he noticed the cycling group on Old Weltevreden Road about a month ago and his first concern was their safety.
He had then alerted the traffic safety group, 1Second CPT-Daily Traffic Safety and Security Alerts, and a safety alert was sent out. The organisation now backs the cycling initiative as well.
“I saw the large group cycling and my first concern was their safety on the road and decided to pull over and chatted to Weitz. This is where I had my interest piqued for the initiative and assisted Weitz in getting this initiative more traction. This project definitely has the potential to grow and we want it to be successful,” said Nero.
If you would like to donate or get involved, contact the Hanover Park Bicycles for Change fundraising committee on 084 779 4683 or 065 964 0508.