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Hundreds of cyclists join Freedom Ride into Soweto Print E-mail
30 October 2017
FreedomRide

Hundreds of cyclists in Soweto saddled up early on Sunday for the sixth annual Freedom Ride Jozi to celebrate the memory of Former President Nelson Mandela. 

From Orlando Stadium cyclists headed to Vilakazi Street where one of Mandela’s house is located. The same street also has Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s house located a few metres from Madiba’s house.

On their way to the finish point at Orlando Stadium, cyclists wheezed past numerous historic sites which included the Bara Mall, Power Park, Chris Hani Road, Maponya Mall, Regina Mundi Church, Elias Motsoaledi Road, Vilakazi Street and proceed to Mooki Street.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi took part in the ride, joining TV personality and businessman Dali Tambo and his wife, Rachael, to pedal through the streets of Soweto. This year’s Freedom Ride also coincided with the event hosted by Gauteng Tourism to promote tourism at Vilakazi Street in Soweto.

Premier Makhura said: “For us what is important is to also use this day to promote township tourism. One of the things that we agreed with the City of Johannesburg is that Vilakazi Street will be closed every Sunday to cars.

“It’s a nightmare when you go to Vilakazi Street when there are cars going-up and down there. It makes it very difficult for people to enjoy themselves there. Closing it for cars means opening it for cyclists as we want to promote a non-motorised transport in our province."

“We want to distribute as many bicycles as possible in the townships. We also want to promote the cities that are friendly to the environment. I’m so excited to hear that a number of bicycles have been donated and distributed in Soweto and Alexandra to young cyclists that we see here today through a partnership between Qhubeka and the City of Johannesburg,” said Premier Makhura.

Lisa Seftel, Executive Director for Transport in the City of Johannesburg, said the 20 kilometre ride had no injuries reported. She added that it was free and part of Freedom Ride’s ongoing aim to get more people to cycle and to reclaim the city by biking there.

“The previous routes of the Freedom Ride had included northern suburbs like Sandton, the area around Johannesburg Zoo, Yeoville and even Hillbrow. We decided to take it to Soweto this year as part of promoting township tourism,” said.

An excited Siyabonga Ntsele (14) from Dube in Soweto said: “It was very easy to finish this year’s ride. I love cycling and this was my second year now participating in the Freedom Ride. It was difficult last year but I also managed to finish it.”

Angelo Jaars (21) from Snake Park, Soweto, said: “It was my first time but I really enjoyed it. I was prepared as I train once a week alone and train with a team on weekends. I also want to thanks our cycling club from Snake Park. The club organised me a bicycle.”

The Freedom Ride was started in 2014 by cycling activists in partnership with the City of Johannesburg and Freedom Ride, which is a non-profit organisation based in Johannesburg.

“Our aim is to encourage all South African cities to take on this initiative and promote cycling as a way of transport, connecting communities and creating greener, unified cities for all,” said Hugh Fraser, a board member of the Freedom Ride.

Freedom Ride also promotes a programme called Cycle Friday and has bike maps on its website showing cycling-friendlier routes in Johannesburg.

 

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Last Updated on 30 October 2017