This morning we went on a ride along with bicycle users from Diepsloot with a journalist from the Guardian Newspaper researching the development of cycling cultures in South Africa.
As you know from our previous posts, this community has one of the highest rates of everyday bicycle use in Johannesburg.
If you were to stand on the side of the road during rush hour along William Nicol Drive near Diepsloot, you would be amazed at the constant flow of people on bicycles. If anyone has any doubts about the role and actual practice of bicycles for transport in Johannesburg, we encourage them to undertake a visit.
Yet William Nicol Drive as many other roads in Johannesburg is designed primarily for car users (though this is beginning to change). However in the aggregate, it means that bicycle users, pedestrians, wheel chair users, joggers and others not travelling in motorised vehicles are forced to share the road with fast moving automobiles. This is a ready recipe for unnecessary injuries and fatalities.
In the past we have called for high quality protected bicycle lanes along this corridor. This is the ultimate goal for cycling safety. Already there has been a missed opportunity. A previous expansion of William Nicol despite our urging for separate protected bicycle lanes and pedestrian sidewalks only yielded mixed use sidewalks. As you see in the image below, with severe traffic congestion, cars can easily scale and drive onto the sidewalk compromising the safety of not only pedestrians but also bicycle users.
A new section of William Nicol is slated for further roadworks in the near future. It would be a terrible road safety outcome if that project did not cater for all road users. There is now excellent knowledge in the City of Johannesburg about how to design Johannesburg appropriate protected bicycle lanes as the images below reveal.
We will continue to press for a similar outcome along William Nicol. In the meantime, witness the short video below of our ride this morning.