Cape Town 141213. Cars parked in a bicycle lane in Bree Street. Picture Cindy Waxa.Reporter Anel/Argus

Cape Town - Bree Street in the city centre has been given a fresh lick of paint with the creation of a dedicated green lane for cyclists.

But the demarcated lane seems to be doing little to deter cars from obstructing cyclists’ paths, and some have taken to social media saying: “Paint does little without enforcement”.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, said the green paint was the internationally preferred colour for demarcated lanes on an existing road, as it improved the visibility of the cyclists. The bright colour would also “improve compliance” from motorists.

Gail Jennings, an independent non-motorised transport consultant, said painted cycle lanes were a common intervention in the US and Europe, but they were usually accompanied by some sort of barrier such as road studs, a painted island or bollards. “In addition, these cities and countries have a greater level of traffic law enforcement, and significantly higher levels of compliance with the law and respect for other road users.”

Herron said residents could do their bit by ensuring the cycle lanes remained unobstructed by either cars or pedestrians.

“It is only with community buy-in that Cape Town can truly assert itself as a bicycle-friendly environment, and consequently reap the benefits that the wide-scale uptake of this transport option will offer.”

MANY JUST DON’T CARE

However, photographs taken by cyclists since the lane was painted, and at different times of the day, paint a very different picture. Delivery vans and cars can be seen parked diagonally across the freshly-painted lanes, much to the frustration of Cape Town’s cycling fraternity.

“We shouldn’t write off painted bike lanes just because South African drivers have low levels of respect for others, and low compliance with the law, but they need to be part of a comprehensive, integrated programme of behaviour change interventions… reduced speed limits, improved and integrated public transport, greater enforcement.

“Also, importantly, bike lanes need to be built where there are already high numbers of bicycle users, and where the route is a link in a popular and important network; this would leave less opportunity for vehicles to park in the bike lanes, as they see greater use by cyclists,” said Jennings.

An example of this would be Kalk Bay’s Main Road, she said.

The city has indicated that Albert Road in Woodstock would be next to get the green-painted lane treatment.

BICYCLE SEPARATOR PLANNED

Herron said a bicycle separator would be installed early next year and 60m of the Woodstock cycle lane would remain unpainted so that a new kind of paint could be tested.

Herron was unavailable to provide more clarity on the nature of these separators or the benefit of a new type of paint at the time of going to press.

Meanwhile, Bree Street is set to become a car-free zone on January 18 from 9am until 2pm. This is part of the the Open Street project, an initiative to reimagine public spaces without cars. It has been inspired by Bogota’s Ciclovia programme which sees 120km of city streets being reserved for non-motorised transport each Sunday.

It’s hoped that thousands of people will walk, cycle, run or skateboard in Bree Street on that day.

A similar Open Street day is being planned for Langa in March.

Cape Argus