Cape Town 28-10-12 -Cyclists ar St James close to were a cyclist was killed last week
Picture Brenton Geach
Cape Town 28-10-12 -Cyclists ar St James close to were a cyclist was killed last week Picture Brenton Geach

Law may change to assist cyclists

Time of article published Nov 2, 2012

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Melanie Gosling

MOTORISTS travelling on Main Road between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay are likely to have to travel at the speed of a bicycle if the 1.5m overtaking distance between a cycle and a motor vehicle becomes law.

This could be as slow as 20km/h. This is because the road is too narrow to allow 1.5m between the vehicle and the cyclist without the motorist breaking the law by crossing the solid white line in the centre of the road.

Cyclist Sivuyile Same, of Masiphumelele, was killed on this stretch of road last month when he was hit by a bus.

At St James, where Same was killed, the road is 3.3m, measured from the edge of the tar to the edge of the white line. If the cyclist rides about 25cm from the edge of the tar, and the distance from his wheel to the end of his elbow is about 30cm, that puts him 55cm from the edge of the tar.

If one adds the mirror-to-mirror width of a car at an average of 2m, and adds the 1.5m overtaking distance, this comes to just over 4m. That means the vehicle could overtake the cyclist only if the motorist unlawfully drove across the solid white line.

The Cape Times asked Transport MEC Robin Carlisle if it were feasible to introduce the 1.5m overtaking legislation, given the narrowness of some roads favoured by cyclists.

Carlisle replied: “If the road is too narrow for a vehicle to overtake a cycle at a distance of 1.5m, then that vehicle must travel behind the cycle until it is able to overtake it lawfully.”

The speed that the motorist will have to travel behind a cyclist would vary, but would probably be between 20km/h to 35km/h.

This section of Main Road is one of three routes, with Boyes Drive and Ou Kaapse Weg, that connects the southern Peninsula with the southern suburbs.

According to Gail Jennings, a non-motorised transport consultant, about 19 000 vehicles use the Kalk Bay/Muizenberg road daily, and about 30 to 40 “utility cyclists”.

Steve Hayward, chairman of the Pedal Power Association, said motorists did drive behind cyclists at their speed in some overseas countries that have the 1.5m overtaking distance legislation.

“I don’t know how the authorities will deal with this in those cases where the road is narrow. They may have to delimit certain areas to a 1m overtaking distance. We maintain the only safe distance is 1.5m. I’ve been on a bus in London and it waited for the cyclist, driving behind it. But we are too impatient in this country, too violent,” Hayward said.

The proposed law has still to be considered by the standing committee in the provincial legislature.

Andrew Wheeldon, managing director of the Bicycling Empowerment Network, suggested that signs could be erected to state that motorists should pass cyclists only when safe, and that they could cross the white line when doing so.

“Most do that already anyway,” he said.

It is common to see cyclists riding two or three abreast.

Hayward said: “Cyclists are not all goody-two-shoes. The police must get out there and fine those people. A cyclist does not have the right to ignore traffic rules. In Australia they confiscate your bike until you’ve paid the fine.”

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