On November 15 1902, the Star Newspaper in Johannesburg published a letter by someone complaining about the increasing speeds of motor cars. He was very distressed that a friend of his nearly fell of his horse when a car travelling at least 18 miles an hour (about 29kms/hr) whizzed by.
He requested that the Town Council revert to the previously set 7 miles an hour (11kms/hr) speed limit for all vehicles. Anything else would “constitute[s] a public danger.”
How things change. These days in Johannesburg 60kms/hr is considered a lazy pace. It may be the case in many other cities in the world. Perhaps this is why 30km/hr is considered a desirable campaign goal that may increase the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. For example see this campaign.
Contrary to popular perception, Johannesburg is already to some extent a cycling friendly city. Many streets are traffic-calmed and have low volumes of traffic. However these corridors of mobility are undiscovered by many cyclists.
JUCA – with the support of many commuter cyclists – is developing a map that will showcase these routes. The goal of the map is to promote cycling as a low-cost, realistic transport option. The Map provides current or potential cyclists with safe routes that have been defined and reviewed by experienced Johannesburg commuters. The network connects the residential areas of the socio-economic groups most likely to cycle already or to take it up to common destinations.
The proposed network links high density, lower-income residential areas to economic hubs, student residence areas to university campuses, residential areas to parks. We follow a pragmatic approach that allows changes as required over time.
The map will be physically manifest on the street through signs and other markers. This will allow the network to be visible to all cycle commuters, who need to be able to move quickly and reliably along a route without wasting time getting lost, stopping to read a map, or asking for directions.
Furthermore, visible signs and markings will make other road users aware of existing cyclists and cycling as an alternative to their current mode of transport. In tandem with the safer cycle network map, on-street signage is key to promoting commuter cycling in Johannesburg. We will provide updates of this project in due course.