This presentation by Gail Jennings was made at the third Bold City mini-conference hosted at The Bank on Harrington Street. Read more here.
Speaker: Gail Jennings
Topic: Cycling in 2030
Gail Jennings describes the challenges and complexities of cycling in Cape Town from the perspective of a cyclist. “Cape Town has a fantastic cycle network. The question is how can we better use the network?” asked Gain Jennings.
In answering this Gail explored how bicycle friendly cities have developed throughout the world and how we can retrofit cycling into cities. The answer is purely in the urban form of a city. European cities that have high cycle users are compact, are usually flatter and are not a windy and prone to rapid weather changes as Cape Town. Traffic speeds are generally slow, helmets are compulsory and streets are narrow. Cycle friendly cities tend to have good public transport networks; low private vehicle ownership and cycling tends to be the cheaper, faster and convenient option. Therefore cycling is the obvious thing to do qualifying these cities cycle friendly.
The problem is that Cape Town is trying to retrofit cycling networks into circumstances that are not ideal for a cycling city. Rather than focussing on where we need a network of cycle lanes, the focus should be on how we can form cycle communities. Fish Hoek is a classic example of how form meets function when it comes to cycling where the population has chosen to cycle due to the close proximity and density of the neighbourhood with all the traits of a good cycle city. Ultimately Gail explains that cycle lanes should follow demand and not preempt demand.
There is a clear gap between perceptions of safety in cycling on roads. It is far more dangerous to be in a vehicle on the road than on a bicycle. Caution and awareness need to be displayed by all parties on the roads. The question is ultimately who are roads for? What comes first, changing infrastructure or changing minds?