Cycle lanes on track

karen watkins

The construction of walkways and cycle lanes along seven major roads in the Constantia Valley has started.

Transport for Cape Town (TCT), the City of Cape Town’s transport authority, has also started construction of universally accessible walkways to connect commuters with railway stations along Main Road.

The City’s mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said universally accessible walkways have dropped kerbs, making it easier for those in wheelchairs, pushing prams, or pedestrians who have difficulty walking such as those with limited eyesight or no eyesight, to access the walkways. Tactile paving is also used at the entrances and exits of the walkways to aid those with impaired vision to be aware that there is an intersection ahead.

The City has found that many people walk between their houses, public transport modes and workplaces. The purpose of walkways is to provide pedestrians with a safe route where there will be little, if any, conflict between vehicles and pedestrians.

The City conducted a general household survey in 2011 which showed there are 569 179 people with disabilities in Cape Town, 296 891 are categorised as severely disabled – almost 15 percent of the city’s population.

Of this group, nearly 44 percent of employed people with disabilities use public transport to get to work and 4.5 percent of people with disabilities walk to work. For those people with disabilities attending educational institutions, more than 13 percent use public transport, while almost 53 percent walk.

Ward 62 councillor Liz Brunette, who is also chairperson of the City’s Road Safety Task Team and in whose area much of the cycle tracks pass, said she approached TCT in 2013 regarding developing non-motorised transport (NMT) pathways along Spaanschemat Road. Since the environmental impact assessment public participation process started in October 2014, the response was and continues to be very positive.

“Cyclists, runners and walkers are pleased that they’ll have safe pathways to use, bearing in mind that there are currently gravel or sand verges along most of the edges of Spaanschemat Road,” said Ms Brunette.

She said the network of pathways and the off-road cycle routes through the greenbelts provides pupils, residents, shoppers, recreational cyclists and people going to their place of work with the opportunity to travel on demarcated pathways.

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Ms Brunette said the Constantia greenbelts cycle routes cross the non-motorised transport pathway at Firgrove Way bridge and at the existing horse crossing near Peddlars on the Bend, which connects the Spaanschemat and Sillery sections of the greenbelt trails.

Ms Brunette said she received many SMSes in October 2014 supporting plans for the non-motorised transport initiative. “I’m delighted that the project has started at both ends of Firgrove Way, and look forward to seeing the network of pathways expand in the next 18 months,” she said.

Mr Herron said he hopes that this much-needed infrastructure will encourage road users to substitute their private vehicles for non-motorised transport where practical, or to walk or cycle to public transport modes. “NMT is a an essential form of transport in cities across the world and Cape Town is no exception, given the rapid rate of urbanisation and the subsequent effect on traffic congestion,’ he said.

The non-motorised transport project is valued at approximately R66.5 million and will benefit commuters using passenger rail in the vicinity of Kendal, Ladies Mile, Tokai and Steenberg roads.

The walkways and cycle lanes will pass through Meadowridge, Bergvliet, Tokai, Steenberg and Westlake and some of the new infrastructure will also be in proximity to railway stations along Main Road such as Diep River, Heathfield, Retreat and Steenberg, to provide commuters with safe access to their destinations.

The work is already under way and entails the construction of walkways, cycle lanes and landscaping along the following:

blob Kendal Road, from the intersection with Main Road in Diep River to the intersection with Spaanschemat River Road;

blob Spaanschemat River Road in the direction of Tokai, past Firgrove Way;

blob Orpen Road and Steenberg Road, past Pollsmoor Prison;

blob Tokai Road, from the intersection with Main Road to the intersection with Zwaanswyk Road;

blob Steenberg Road (M42), past Ou Kaapse Weg and the M3 on- and off-ramp, all the way to Main Road in Steenberg;

blob Ladies Mile Road, from the intersection with Spaanschemat River Road all the way to Main Road; and

blob Firgrove Way, from the intersection with Ladies Mile Road to the intersection with Spaanschemat River Road.

The walkways and cycle lanes will be constructed along both sides of the roads, subject to the availability of space and other obstructions such as low-water bridges and the bridges over the M3 freeway.

Mr Herron said pedestrians and cyclists will have to share the new facilities along some of the sections as there may be not enough available space to create a separate walkway and cycle lane. A portion of the budget will also be spent on the installation of traffic lights on Kendal Road at the intersections with Spaanschemat River Road, the M3 off-ramp and Edison Drive, making it safer for those turning into and out of Kendal Road.

The project is expected to be completed by June 2017, if all goes according to plan.

Rob Vogel of Pedal Power Association said cycle lanes that are separate from the road are of benefit to cyclists. However, if the lane is part of the roadway then it is of no benefit to cyclists or to vehicles, as seen with the cycle lanes in Woodstock. If the cycle lane is squeezed into existing roadways he recommends that cyclists cycle in the middle of the road as this is the safest place for them to be.

Mr Vogel says education is needed from the City to inform cyclists where cycle tracks are, such as a website with maps showing existing infrastructure and dotted lines demarcating future tracks. It needs regular updating.

Mark Schäfer, chairman of the Bergvliet Meadowridge Ratepayer’s Association, said “Anything that can get cyclists further away from cars is a good idea”.

John Hesom of the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association said they were in favour of the NMT project when it was initially discussed.

* Additional reporting by Karen Watkins