Durban - KwaZulu-Natal cycling legend Burry Stander would have turned 30 today.
Since his death in 2013 after he was hit by a taxi on the South Coast, the Burry Stander Bike Park has been opened on the smallholding near Port Shepstone where he grew up and trained on the trails.
His mother Mandie said the Stander family no longer rode on public roads at all: “We know it is not safe.”
She said she and her husband Charles were still learning to deal with Burry’s death.
“Some days are okay and others are really bad.
"You will never cope. I have a very special bond with all my children.
"I really miss Burry so, so much. Nothing will ever be the same. I think the whole family is still struggling.”
Today singer Ian Smith will entertain his fans at a picnic in the park. All 150 tickets have been sold, said Mandie.
“We all love mountain biking and the idea behind the park is to give cyclists safe trails where they can ride,” she said.
“It is working well. We have made so many new friends and everyone loves these trails.”
To give back to cycling, the Burry Stander Foundation started cycling development programmes in rural areas.
“It’s amazing to see all the kids coming to the park and riding bikes. We make sure all kids feel welcome. They ride their bikes, play and we give them a meal.
“The more talented ones are in a team. They have to teach the other kids. We bought better bikes for the team and we take them to races.”
The aim is to promote not only riding but also road safety: “We hope that teaching them to ride bicycles at a young age, one day when they are drivers, they will know why they need to have respect for all road users and notice cyclists more.”
Mandie lamented the fact that South African roads remained dangerous.
“Daily, you hear of another cyclist being knocked off their bicycles," she said. "The new norm is hit and run.”
Mandie added that the foundation had placed two older cyclists on a mechanical training programme.
“One is now working at a local bike shop and the other one has a contract with the KwaZulu-Natal Cycling Development.”
The family also started the “#bikes4Burry” programme in which two schools are involved.
“We gave them bikes, helmets and equipment. They have a teacher appointed to the programme and we interact with them on a regular basis.
“They cycle in school time but also have to learn how to maintain the bicycles.”
She said it was working well, but that funding was a problem. “Unfortunately KZN Cycling Development decided on a different programme and the Burry Stander Foundation is no longer part of this.
“We also have a “#helmet4Burry” programme. We stop people who are not wearing helmets and explain to them how necessary it is and hand them out. We want to get more involved in road safety issues.”
The driver of the taxi that hit Burry, Njabulo Nyawose, was sentenced to six years in jail, half of which were suspended, after being found guilty of culpable homicide.
The Independent on Saturday