Light up the road with your smile, and your reflective gear – that’s the word from Cheryl Jupp, who teaches cycle safety to learners and participants in the annual ‘Argus’ cycle tour…
It’s Pick ‘n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour training season again, and too often it’s the season for cyclist-driver hostility, vehicle-bicycle collisions, and anger and misunderstanding.
“As a legal road user, cyclists have the right to respect on the road, and to be treated with due caution,’ says Jupp, who works with the NEDBANK AND SPORTS TRUST CYCLING PROGRAMME “But we must not forget that with that right comes responsibility, to take other road users into account in whatever we do.”
The City of Cape has always supported the Cycle Tour and provided services and logistics, but this is the second year in which the City is a fully-fledged partner. And ten years ago, an independent study estimated that that direct economic benefit of the Tour to Cape Town was around R125,2 million. Can you imagine what the economic impact is now, in 2011.
It’s too late to enter to ride the Tour, but it’s never too late to cheer on the riders. And if you’re a driver or a passenger, please pay attention, be patient, and help make every participant’s training rides safer, happier and more enjoyable for all. And if you’re a cyclist, follow these ‘rules of the road’ and increase your chances of arriving safely home.
“We all need to ride, and drive, as if everybody matters,’ says Jupp. ‘We all have the right to use the roads, so let’s learn to ride through life together.”
Top ten ways to stay safer on the roads
- Be visible. Unlike in many global cities - where thousands of cyclists commute by bike and drivers are used to keeping an eye out - drivers in South Africa don’t always expect cyclists. So they see you at the last minute. Cyclists can help by wearing high-visibility clothing (orange, neon green or pink), flashing LED belts and trouser-straps – and by riding 1.5m in from the road edge (you’re invisible if you skulk in the gutters). No driver actually wants to hit you…
- Obey the rules of the road: South African law considers you the ‘driver’ of a vehicle, so you have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.
- Be assertive but polite. Be the change you want to see on our roads, show others respect and ask that they show you respect, too.
- Pay attention at intersections and traffic circles – particularly where you are travelling straight onward, and the vehicles are turning left. At stop streets and traffic lights, come to a stop slightly in front of the stationary vehicles, so that they’re unable to turn left in front of you.
- Be predictable. Don’t practice your track stands at busy traffic lights… Indicate where you intend to go – and smile. Ride often and keep up your urban riding skills, as nervous, hesitant cyclists often endanger pedestrians and motorists.
- Ride in single file and wear a helmet – a helmet won’t prevent you from being involved in a crash, but it will protect your head to some extent if you are.
- Don’t deliberately swerve your bike from side to side, and always keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
- Light up your bike: white lights/reflectors on the front; red lights/reflectors on the back.
- Be prepared: Carry water, a pump, a patch kit (and a spare, to give to someone else), and identification (on yourself and your bike, not only in your wallet and on your phone, sadly, as these may be stolen if you’re in a collision). Check your bike for obvious mechanical problems every time you leave for a ride.
- Report dangerous and reckless driving – and don’t be guilty of such ‘driving’ yourself. For example, you can report dangerous Golden Arrow drivers on 0800 65 64 63.
Bicycling safety tips are from the Cape Town Bicycle Map: the map showing safer urban cycling routes, bicycle parking, bicycle lanes and other cycling information.