Update 12 october 2015: After being knocked down by a motorist driving in the yellow lane I added point 11 below.
There is some negativity around the #ecomobility initiative — I can understand this if you commute to Sandton daily in a car. More like a shock treatment than a gradual approach to improve the overall public transport system.
But maybe a shock treatment is what’s needed?
We are used to taking our cars (mostly single drivers) into the heart of the richest square mile in Africa and expect that in a few years, it wouldn’t have worsened? What you are experiencing this month, can easily be the reality 12 months from now, if plans aren’t put into place and attitudes don’t change.
So we should press local government to improve cycling and pedestrian access around Sandton. Major routes like Main Road, William Nichol and Rivonia roud can be tackled, similar to what they’ve done on William Nicol drive between Fourways and Steyn City (wow brilliant!).
Ecomobility month raises awareness. Firstly about the lack of proper cycling lanes in Sandton and secondly the imminent traffic gridlock if everyone continues to drive their cars to work.
So I cycled from Lonehill to Sandton Central this morning to check out all the fuzz around #Ecomobility month. Here are my quick observations from a cyclist point of view:
- Great initiative as we need to solve Sandton’s traffic gridlock. It raises awareness but also points out the lack of public transport options. Give people more options and they will use it (like in London, New York etc).
- There are only a few green painted cycling lanes in Sandton Central. If you live in Sandton, great, if you live in the suburbs, you still need to take the normal sidewalks/roads. Would love to see cycling lanes into Sandton from the suburbs.
- Some of the roads leading into Sandton Central are closed exclusive for bus/taxi use. What about the poor cyclists?
- If you use a mountain bike, you can cycle on the sidewalk 90% of the way and it is quite fun. If you use a road bike, not so lucky and more dangerous for you.
- There are hills. It’s a bit of a climb (especially William Nicol up to Sandton City 5–10% gradient), so if you are not fit, you will arrive at the office sweaty.
- STRAVAAA! Some nice Strava segments! :)
- It’s a hot but unless you are captain slow or forgot your water bottle, you will manage.
- Not a lot of cyclists. I saw 2,3 other guys going to work. Chatted to the one guy who said he is trying it out for the first time. Good for you!
- It was cheaper and healthier than taking a car and took me about 30–40min to get to Sandton Central.
- You can take the famous (Braamfontein) Spruit back downhill (and get some airtime over the bumps!) but do that in a group (there are some shady people living in the bushes).
- Motorist will drive in the yellow lanes. Even more so due to the extra congestion, so watch out and try to keep on the sidewalks. I was unfortunately knocked over by a motorist who drove in the yellow lane on 12 October (too many pedestrians on the sidewalk to ride there). Luckily just a bruised hip. Wished there was more visible policing on the main roads leading into Sandton.
Update 15 October 2015: Unfortunately this cyclist was not so lucky, also hit by a car driving in the yellow lane, same road, 100m from where I was hit. In the photos you can see who people drive in the yellow lane (top left) and how much space they leave you (top right).
Depending on your job, cycling is maybe not the best option. But it is worth a try, and you will feel a lot better and more energized arriving at work. If some of us can do this, and proper cycling lanes are created, it will relieve a lot of pressure on the Sandton roads.
Sandton’s ecomobility month is a great initiative to create awareness. But would have loved to see them create safer routes into Sandton for cyclists by more visible policing. Motorist are now taking more chances in yellow lanes due to the increased congestion. This could be lethal for the few brave taking two wheels or walking to work.