1.When did you first start cycling regularly, and why?
In 2010. It didn’t make sense to drive from Brixton to Forest Town, for instance miss out on bombing that big hill past SABC and styling through traffic. Plus not to mention the petrol savings and fitness perks.
2. How do your family/friends feel about you cycling?
Some people think I’m cool. The women in my life (my wife and mum) generally worry quite a bit. I also worry sometimes! I guess some folks are envious that I can or that it works for me. Others can’t believe it and even offer me lifts when we’re out to dinner together. And then some think being a little sweaty is so gross!
3. Do you feel cycling is dangerous? Why or why not?
I usually jump red lights, and take nasty gaps – that’s sometimes dangerous! It could be considered relatively safe because you know the road, the routes (ie, where to get on the shoulder etc) and you know your bike but then it’s really unsafe because sometimes there are open manholes, road construction or bad drivers. The worst are aggressive drivers, sometimes on Jan Smuts going down hill, when cars have a whole 2 lanes to over take me they still want to get nasty because I’m playing it safe and taking up a whole lane.
4. How do you feel about cycling? Why?
It’s liberating, you get to feel free from your day or from whatever stress or situation may be getting you down. So for that moment of time between point A and B I know I’ve got time to glide, weave and work up a sweat getting away from everything else and getting home at the same time.
It clears my mind, resets my clock and is fun all at the same time. Also, it’s seriously the obvious way to go if you’re commuting a short distance – I think people should give it a try and see how viable it is. It’s actually even doable on proper distance, Braamfontein to Sandton City or Soweto Stadium for instance – great rides, quite a bit further but so much more exciting by bike then car. I feel that cycling is accessible and would make people happy, so a bicycle friendly city is one where everyone benefits. Pocket, heart and mind.
5. How do you interact with other traffic on the road?
Careful but cocky.
6. What is the thing you like least about commuting by bicycle, and what is it you like best about it?
Least: cars not seeing you and having full priority 100% of the time with 99.9% of all the infrastructure! Oh, and the Gautrain/REA Vaya not caring about cycling! of course…
The best thing about commuting by bicycle is commuting by bicycle. It’s really freedom, for example: parking, traffic and costs are never an issue. And even if I get caught in the rain, as long as it’s on the way home, it’s all good!
7. Do you feel that being a cyclist has changed your life? If so, how?
I am more aware of my surroundings and therefore more in love with my city and the people that are its community.
8. Does your employer encourage cycling? If so, how?
Kind of. There is acknowledgement that it’s a good thing but there isn’t active encouragement by way of perks, branding/credentials or persuasion of others to start. We’re a very small consulting firm so I guess alone I already make up a significant percentage of green transport.
9. Do you think your city can become a bicycle friendly city? How?
Yes! If leadership will make it an ACTUAL priority and if they will make small but effective changes that have an impact. That would be a good start. Often these are simple and not expensive, for example bike allowance on all public transport is the most obvious. Seriously, it should be encouraged! Also, certain roads really don’t need modification for bike lanes therefore: put them in! if it’s just paint, then do it! Alternatively, I think there are suburban roads that are 2 lanes and low traffic that could be modified such that one lane is for cars (one way only) and the other lane one ways for cars and the other lane is for bicycles. That would be progressive.
The “how” would be small but effective steps that have an accumulative effect. It’s going to all build up in the long run, for instance allowing bicycles on all public transport immediately encourages cyclists which means more cyclists on the road which means cars have to start being friendly. And, drivers and public transport commuters seeing cyclists encourage them to get on a bike and it just keeps going on and on I guess.