Promoting cycling safety in Westlake Village

Children from the Trail Ancestors Academy joined the cycle safety awareness ride in Westlake Village at the weekend.

Cycling safety awareness in Westlake Village was in the spotlight at the weekend.

The Bicycle Empowerment Network, a non-profit company, and On Bike, the community’s only bicycle shop, joined local government officials and the Pedal Power Association for an awareness ride and safety demonstration, on Saturday.

This is the second year that event has been held.

Meshack Nchupetsang, who owns On Bike, said several cyclists from the area had been in fatal accidents or been seriously injured because they had not been wearing a helmet.

“These people are the heartbeat of my business; they have supported me throughout the years, and I felt that it is very important to reach out to them and say this is what you need to do to be safe on the road,” Mr Nchupetsang said.

Many of the accidents happened on the M3 and Spaanschemat River Road, he said.

According to Mr Nchupetsang, his shop started with only five spanners in 2002 and is now fully equipped to tackle any bike. It was set up as one of Ben’s Bicycle Empowerment Centres. Through Ben, entrepreneurs like Mr Nchupetsang receive small business management and mechanical training.

“Many of the residents that live here go to their place of work early in the morning and come back late at night. They are using the City cycle paths, but they are riding through areas that don’t have street lights. Or they are riding on the M3, which really is a challenge. We have had some really unfortunate deaths over the past few years. So for me one death is one death too many. So that is why it is really important that we get the high visibility vest out, that we get the cycling helmets out,” said ward councillor Carolynne Franklin, who joined the ride, along with mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas and urban mobility portfolio committee chairman Mikhail Manuel

Mr Quintas said the City would like to see bicycles account for 8% of all road use, but he conceded that it was hard getting people out of their cars.

“In a country like South Africa, the private vehicle is aspirational. People feel that they have made it, that they have arrived from their socio-economic bracket into another one,” he said, adding that safety was also a concern, and the City was prioritising bicycle lanes for all large developments to encourage safe cycling.

Ready, set and cycle. From left, are On Bike owner Meshack Nchupetsang, urban mobility portfolio committee chairperson Mikhail Manuel, mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas, ward councillor Carolynne Franklin and Sue Strybis from the Bicycle Empowerment Network.
The Bicycle Empowerment Network’s Sue Strybis distributes information booklets on cycle safety during the awareness drive.
On Bike has been Westlake Village’s only bike shop for the past 20 years. In the shop, from left, are ward councillor Carolynne Franklin, Meshack Nchupetsang, mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas and urban mobility portfolio committee chairperson Mikhail Manuel.