Rosebank will soon be connected to Sandton and surrounding areas by 27km of new bicycle lanes which not only aim to reduce motorist gridlocks but also their carbon footprint.
These areas in northern Johannesburg already house some of the country’s greenest buildings such as Standard Bank in Rosebank and Sasol’s new headquarters in Sandton, according to Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), and seek to promote a commuter cycling culture in Johannesburg that will spread to the rest of the country said ward councillor Tim Truluck.
Construction of the lanes will begin in July 2016 and will cost the City of Johannesburg almost R80m. Costs include traffic light changes, cycle parking, paving, benches, bins, bollards and relocating services such as water meters where necessary.
The city is working with members of the Sandton and Rosebank Business and Management Districts as well as Growth Point Properties.
The routes connect Rosebank to Sandton, Melrose Arch, Saxonwold, the Zoo, Parkview, Parkhurst and Victory Park.
Bike lanes that have already been constructed around Auckland Park and Braamfontein are used by two cyclists every hour during off peak times, according to the city’s Transport Department.
However, according to the department’s executive director Lisa Seftel, evidence from other countries with cycle lanes shows that with good promotion and a change in the mind-set of commuters, this figure can increase to 50 cyclists per lane per day.
She also added that greater use of the lanes was expected from August 21 2015 when the city, in partnership with Freedom Ride, Qhubeka and Dimension Data, will give bicycles to about 300 learners from Noorgesig, Bona and Orlando high schools in Soweto.
Johannesburg Urban Cyclists Association (JUCA) member, Mehita Iqani, said although motorists did not see many cyclists she met many of them on her routes. With over 1,000 collective likes on Facebook, cyclists in associations such as JUCA and Cycle Wits are working to advocate for commuter cycling in Johannesburg.
Challenges like bad conditions of the roads, no streetlights, lack of signage and selfish motorist behaviour are some of the challenges that cyclists face.
Although most South Africans still use cars and other public transport to get to work, Truluck who has been using an electric bicycle for over a year, hopes that the many citizens who cycle for recreation will soon migrate to commuter cycling which many lower income earners are already doing.
Cycling from her home to the University of the Witwatersrand where she lectures takes Iqani the same (sometimes shorter) amount of time as a car without the stress of traffic and parking.
Truluck also mentioned the introduction of refresher points and showers in some companies to accommodate and encourage their employees to take up commuter cycling.
This story was originally posted on Business Day.