Mayoral Speech on Cycling

Here is the full text of a speech given by Executive Mayor of Johannesburg at the launch of the July 2014 Freedom Ride. JUCA is pleased to note the City’s commitment to investing in cycling infrastructure, and we will be keeping an eye on progress towards delivery.

Mayor Tau


10 July 2014


Programme Director

We meet here a few days before Tata Nelson Mandela’s birthday, to announce the second Freedom Ride. This is a cycle ride to celebrate the life of our greatest international icon and Johannesburg Freeman, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. We stage this event in order to promote a cycling friendly city, in partnership with various cycling organisations.

The first ride on the 9th of February this year attracted over 5 000 cyclists from all walks of life. By popular demand, we are repeating this ride, starting from the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge, under the gaze of our beloved hero.

“The purpose of Freedom”, Mandela said; “is to create it for others”. It is for this reason, that we are inspired to take this ride: the second edition of the Freedom Ride on the 20th July 2014, to as many citizens as possible; citizens who want to celebrate the freedom that former President Mandela achieved in South Africa.

What will be new this time around, will be the very exciting brand new cycle paths in Orlando, Soweto; along which the first Bicycle Empowerment Centre (BEN), will soon be set up. This centre will provide training and support to cyclists – especially learners using the new cycling route. We are also partnering with the Gauteng Provincial Government, to hand out Shova Kalula bikes, to learners in these areas.

The Bike Empowerment Centre was funded by donations from the first Freedom Ride, and will be implemented in partnership with Boni4Kasi, a Soweto non-governmental organization (NGO), which has worked tirelessly to promote and support cycling amongst young people in Soweto.

The ride is taking place just after Mandela Day, and we call on riders who have not yet found a way to contribute 67 minutes for Mandela Day, to consider a donation of R67 or even R670 towards the next Bike Empowerment Centre.

I am sure you have observed that most of our citizens aspire to get to work by their own cars. May I remind them Johannesburg have other clean air and healthier alternatives around.

Bicycles, Programme Director, are a healthy, quick and affordable way to get around – almost everyone can ride a bike. Among many benefits, cycling can:

Reduce traffic jams, especially if we integrate it with public transport.

Cycling is good for the environment: it has the lowest CO2 emissions of all forms of transport; improves air quality and reduces noise in our neighbourhoods.

Cycling improves fitness and health, it is also excellent for mental health – regular cycling makes people feel great.

Cycling helps us build an active citizenry and also break down racial patterns of getting around. Cyclists feel camaraderie towards fellow cyclists and often share the same challenges of mounting hills and share the thrill of sliding down these hills. This experience cannot be felt by motorists towards each other.

We are following – but hope to soon be leading – many cities that cycle around the world more than our City. Sponsorship of the Freedom Ride is one of the initiatives that will assist us to achieve our long term of increasing cycling in Joburg.

Other initiatives to take the our cycling agenda forward, include making substantial investments in cycling paths and routes – from Orlando to Noorgesig, from Westbury and Sophiatown to Melville, from Melville to Doornfontein, from Rosebank to Sandton, from Sandton to Alexandra and from Diepsloot to Fourways. All these projects are either in the planning or at implementation stage.

The Melville to Doornfontein routes, aim to connect students and staff members of both the University of Johannesburg and Wits University. It runs between the UJ Kingsway Campus and the UJ Doornfontein Campus, and will further link Hillbrow and Park Station with those who commute between Park Station and Melville. It is 15km stretch. We are using a trial section of this route on Jorrison Street for the Freedom Ride on the 20th July 2014, and after this press conference, I will escort the media to this place for a photographing opportunity.

So, Programme Director, we are not widening the road for cars, or just pothole patching on De Korte and Jorrison Streets: we are actually in a process of transforming our streets. We urge motorists to respect the new bright green cycle lanes that are being introduced for cyclists.

We are also working with the Johannesburg Urban Cyclist Association (JUCA), to identify and sign over 100 kilometres of safe cycling routes across Joburg. This partnership with various cycling organisations, is important towards making Joburg a cycling friendly city.

As stated in my recent State of the City address, Johannesburg is a city at work. What is very exciting is – just like the common cold – the cycling bug that is catching on a growing number of our citizens.

For example in Sandton, “Decongest Sandton” are telling motorists: “You are not in traffic, you are traffic”. Business in Sandton also wants to sponsor bike lanes. Groups have come forward offering to train learners to cycle, and other businesses are considering bike taxis or pedi cabs or bikes, as courier services, instead of cars. This is the best way to do business.

The Freedom Ride is part of our vision for a healthier, more connected, efficient city. We are pursuing this vision in partnership with the people, communities and organisations that make this city great. We call upon you all to come on board. Jozi is work to create a World Class African City, together with you.

Thank you for coming. I hope that you will help us to promote the ride next Sunday (20th July 2014).

Mpho Parks Tau
Executive Mayor
City of Johannesburg