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Cycling in the spotlight at Transport Month indaba

The City of Johannesburg is exploring ways to create an alternative transport system around institutions of higher learning – including Wits University and the University of Johannesburg – to increase mobility and decongest adjoining streets and roads.

Speaking during the Gauteng Cycling Indaba in Sandton on Tuesday October 11, Lisa Seftel, the City’s Executive Director of Transport, said there were more opportunities to introduce multiple forms of transportation to decrease traffic congestion around the city.

The two-day conference was organised by the Gauteng Provincial Department of Roads and Transport in celebration of Transport Month. South Africa has been observing October as Transport Month since 2005 to highlight the importance of transport in the economy.

Seftel told the gathering of mainly cyclists that it was, for instance, possible to increase the number of people using bicycles in the city. She said at present the City was looking at how it could maximise the use of cycling as an alternative mode of transport around the institutions of higher learning. Seftel said there were hundreds of students who were either driving their own cars or using taxis and buses to attend lectures. She said cycling could improve traffic mobility in and around these areas.

“Our studies have revealed that nearly 4 000 University of Johannesburg students reside 4km away from campus and that about 5 000 more from Wits University also live close by. It would be proper if we could look into these numbers and plan on how we provide an integrated transport system that includes cycling,” Seftel said.

She added that this could start a new cycling culture. Seftel said the City had laid down a number of cycling lanes and needed to revive old ones to prepare for future transport challenges.
Earlier, Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi told delegates that it was important to explore cycling and other alternative modes of transport now as an increasing number of people were migrating to the province every month. He said although there might be different opinions about how the province could achieve an integrated transport system, the reality was that traffic was becoming an impediment to economic growth.

“We can’t build more roads because of limited land space. That’s why we need other forms of transport and cycling is one of them,” Vadi said.

He said it was important for Gauteng to create an integrated transport system and a new transport culture.

“We’ve many excuses. We must change the culture and adopt new forms of travelling,” Vadi said.

The MEC said traffic enforcement was vital to foster a culture of cycling as many people did not feel safe on the roads. He said traffic officials should be bold in dealing with offenders who drove on dedicated bus and cycle lanes.