Pretoria - Moving towards a non-motorised transport friendly city would take a concerted effort and a shift in mindset.
These were some of the crucial points made by panellists during an indaba themed “Creating a non-motorised transport friendly City” yesterday.
In a bid to promote the theme and encourage commuters to walk or cycle, Burnett Street in the Hatfield student precinct was closed to traffic from 6am until 6pm.
Speaking at the indaba in Hatfield, MMC for Roads and Transport Sheila Senkubuge said there was an obligation on leadership to urge people to use public transport and non-motorised transport.
She said infrastructure in the form of bicycle lanes had been made available in areas such as Park Street in Arcadia in a bid to promote non-motorised methods of travelling, but they were prone to being exploited by taxis and other motorists in most cases.
“Behavioural changes are key aspects. We need to be strict about public participation and engaging communities and all stakeholders.
“We are not trying to ban cars, but we believe more space should be afforded to pedestrians and cyclists. We cannot change the entire city at one go. We have to start gradually through engagements and partnerships with other industries, such as taxis.”
Tshepo Mlangeni, of Tshwane Urban Riders, said the more people were made aware of the advantages of using non-motorised transport and if cyclists were shown consideration, it would enhance participation.
He said currently, cyclists ran the risk of being run over, mugged or sometimes having their bicycles stolen from them due to lack of safety. This put people off cycling.
Safe parking for cyclists, as well as cycle zones and bike parks were needed to encourage people to take up cycling, Mlangeni added.
“When we started our cycling club in Mamelodi, we received push-back but now we ride in a group of over 100 cyclists and we have sponsors within the community.
“Engage with people so they understand and embrace.
“More municipalities should be rolling out non-motorised transport infrastructure.”
He said having car-free zones even in busy areas would facilitate engagement and make people see things differently in terms of transport.
Dr Njogu Morgan, from Wits, who studied the cycling culture in Gauteng dating back to the 1900s, said a cycling culture existed and was normal back then and car use was criticised when it was first introduced.
“People used bicycles for everything - they attended concerts and shows. You would see hundreds of bicycles and (only) a few cars parked. That culture can be brought back with a change in mindset."
He said as much as there was a desire to displace cars, there was an economic element that couldn't be ignored, but the element was also needed in bicycles.
“We need to bring the same element to non-motorised transport by building a cycling culture, favourable regulations, a culture through bike parks, easy networks for maintenance and distribution that is cheaper as the need arises”.
Metro engineering consultant Werner Bruhns said more consultation was needed between departments to see how cycling could be incorporated into city infrastructure. This, as more development took place, yet the needs of cyclists weren't catered for.