Cape Town - the cyclist friendly city

Like many other cities around the world, Cape Town, is moving forward to creating a greener and safer city for its residents with the new and improved bike lines.

Cape Town believes a simple paint job could go some way towards making the streets safer for Cape Town's cyclists - although it has also budgeted R120 million to improve and expand cycle lanes this year.

On December 15, 2012 as part of a one month testing phase, a section of the existing cycle lane on Bree Street, between Strand Street and Waterkant, was sprayed green to make it more visible to motorists.

Now, the rest of Cape Town's cycle lanes could receive the same treatment after initial observations have shown that it had been incredibly effective.

The city's mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron said that painting the cycle lane along Bree Street had been a response to long-running complaints received from cyclists using the stretch of road.

"Motorists were just parking and driving along the cycle lane. They did not seem to be aware that it was there," said Herron. "Many cyclists (as a result) were not able to make use of the lane."

He said that painting cycle lanes had been proved to be effective overseas. In parts of New Zealand and some states in the US, green or red cycle lanes have become a common sight.

"We have had quite a good response from cyclists on Twitter," he said. "From our own observations, we have seen far more cars avoiding the lane."

Whether or not the rest of Cape Town's extensive network of cycle lanes will be painted green will be decided in two week's time. Herron said the product used to colour the lanes, which is sprayed onto the road's surface rather than painted on, is being tested for wear and tear.

But Pedal Power Association's Lance Burger said while making the cycle lanes more visible to motorists was a step in the right direction, it was not enough.

"We need a physical barrier between the cycle lanes and the rest of the road," he said. "It could be concrete, a curb or even just a sheet of plastic that will make sure that motorists stay on their side of the road."

Burger said far too many people were killed because of motorists entering the cycle lane. "It's too easy for cars to cross into an open lane and injure or kill a cyclist," he said.

Green paint is just a small part of the city's plans for cyclists in Cape Town. According to Herron the city has set aside of budget of R120 million to improve and expand cycle lanes this year.

While a complete list of areas where cycle lanes will be implemented has not yet been made available, Herron confirmed a few large areas would be seeing cycle lanes this year.

Lavender Hill, Atlantis, Belhar, Kraaifontein, Rondebosch, Woodstock, Salt River, Delft and Mitchells Plain are just some of the areas which should be able to accommodate cyclists on their roads by the end of this year. He said lanes that would connect cyclists to public transport would be prioritised.

"We will be laying out these improvements incrementally," he said.

The cycle lane which circles around Rondebosch Common should be completed before June. Meanwhile, pending approval, an upgrade on the lane running along Albert Road should be put out on tender by May.

How will this initiave influence the growth of the cities’ suburbs? Will there be a movement back to community based living rather than having to drive to large malls to stock up on things?

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