Thanda is 20 years old, from Soweto where he lives with his brother and sister. He works as a security guard in Jeppestown.
THANDA’S BIKE WAS STOLEN FROM HIS GARAGE THE WEEK BEFORE THIS INTERVIEW WAS DONE. GET IN TOUCH IF YOU HAVE A BIKE YOU COULD DONATE TO HIM.
When did you start cycling regularly, and why?
Last year. If I’m not mistaken it was November, when I got a bike (donate by Build A Bike SA). I wanted a bike because I travel a long distance. From Soweto to Jeppestown.
How do your family/friends feel about cycling?
They are scared about it because there are a lot of cars on the road. But they know I have no choice. I need to go to work. So they are supporting me, because I have to save money. I still have to take the train but the bicycle allows me to not take a taxi so I save money, about R450 per month.
Do you feel cycling is dangerous?
In Joburg? Yes I think so. Especially like Bree Street and Jeppe Street. I don’t trust the taxi drivers. I plan to find safer routes, like the Rea Vaya lanes, I feel safe there.
How do you feel about cycling?
It’s not just because I have to, I like it and also it’s a good way to exercise, keep my body strong because I am working night shifts. I don’t have time to exercise or to go to the gym. So cycling has helped me a lot.
How do you interact with other traffic on the road?
I try to avoid them. I am scared as I talked about earlier, on Bree and Jeppe. The first day I got the bike, I was pushing it until here (Jeppestown) because I was scared. And then I learned I am not supposed to use Bree Street and Jeppe Street. I have to change my route. Of course I am using signs for when I am turning left and turning right but still I don’t trust the traffic. I tell people walking where I am going, I look around for them. Sometimes I shout to tell them I am coming.
What do you like the least about cycling?
There’s nothing that I don’t like about it because it has made me feel good. It’s helped me. Except the danger on the roads.
What do you like the most about cycling?
To learn everything, to chat with friends on the street. To interact with other different people.
Do you feel that being a cyclist has changed your life? If so, how?
Yes I feel so. Because it has upgraded my life. That is a point important to me. I live a better life. Because I work a lot. And now I get to talk to other people and they give me advice to change my life.
Does your employer encourage cycling? If so, how?
I don’t know exactly what they think about cycling. And as I am working at a parking, I can park my bike safely there. I didn’t need to ask them.
Do you think your city can become a bicycle friendly city? How?
I’d like to be able to bring my friends from Soweto to come cycle in Maboneng at the Critical Mass and see the beautiful city on a bike. I think communication is important. It’s good to have someone to call or to meet if you have a problem about cycling in the city. I think a solution is to call others to join me on my commute. I am just one using the bike and there are so many cars. If I had other people with me on Jeppe and Bree I would have more trust. I wish for a group from Soweto.
Now I need a new bike. It’s helped me a lot. I like it. It keeps me strong and healthy.