Cycle to Work Day Is Back

The Cycle to Work Day to raise awareness about cycling safety takes place for the second successive year this coming Friday, 9 May.

The ride will start at 07h00 in the parking lot in front of Maerua SuperSpar and will cover a route of 21,5km in and around Windhoek before once again finishing at the starting point.

According to the secretary general of the Namibian Cycling Federation, Gerrit van Schalkwyk, who initiated the project last year, the route has been changed a bit from last year.

“This year the route will focus more on the Western Bypass, because it’s such a dangerous road for our cyclists and we want to create more awareness and visibility here. So the cyclists will turn off before Katutura onto the Bypass, going down to the Van Eck Power Station before returning to the city centre via Robert Mugabe Avenue,” he said.

According to Van Schalkwyk, last year’s campaign was very successful, drawing about 200 cyclists and raising the profile of cycling in Namibia.

“Last year’s Cycle to Work Day definitely had a huge impact. It started our Cycling Awareness Campaign and we were invited to the opening of the Sustainable Urban Transport Master Plan (SUTMP) where I handed over a petition on cycling safety to the Minister of Works and Transport. We could also make inputs at the SUTMP discussion of which a large part is dedicated to non urbanised transport,” he said.

Van Schalkwyk said they had brought the Cycle to Work day forward by one week so as to also accommodate school children who are still on holiday, while he hoped to once again attract at least 200 people.

“We’ve also invited the bicycle squad of the City Police to join us while the traffic police will accompany the cyclists.

Van Schalkwyk said they hoped to raise more awareness through aertising and signboards on major roads.

“We want to raise awareness of cycling safety and at the moment we are in discussions with the Ministry of Transport about erecting aertising boards on all roads leading out of Windhoek,” he said.

“Cycling lanes are not high on the agenda of the SUTMP and will only get attention later so that’s why we want to put up visibility signs,” he added.

SUTMP progress

Meanwhile, the SUTMP that was implemented in October last year in order to develop a sustainable and affordable transport system for greater Windhoek, should become more visible later this year.

According to Immanuel Shipanga of the German development agency, GIZ, that is working with the Ministry of Works and Transport and the City of Windhoek on the project, 2014 will see projects and jobs taking place behind the scenes, while the construction of some Non Motorised Transport (NMT) infrastructure projects will be started by the end of the year.

Shipanga added that the first parts of the required equipment will be purchased this year.

“In order for a gradual transformation of the bus system, for example, the first buses of a new state-of-the-art fleet will be bought this year. With some optimism, we will see them roaming our streets by the end of the year,” he said in an update document of MoveWindhoek, the organisation behind the SUMPT.

Shipanga however cautioned against unreasonable expectations and wasted resources.

“It would be counter-productive to rush and quickly build as many cycling lanes and pedestrian crossings as possible – without knowing what social, economic and environmental consequences, for example, a new bicycle lane through a suburb will have, it is highly likely that such projects become “white elephants”.

“As the SUTMP report has outlined, it will be a long-drawn and open-ended process which requires a lot of holistic, thoughtful and sensitive planning – no one wants to realise in five years’ time that the bicycle lanes that have been built do not fulfil the requirements of a rapidly increasing population, or that pedestrian bridges cannot be kept functional as needed experts to maintain them are missing,” he said.

Source : The Namibian