On Sunday morning 7500 cyclists gathered in the Sandton CBD for a 27 km ride to Alexandra and through other Johannesburg suburbs. They were part of Freedom Ride, a social ride initiated by the City of Joburg in partnership with cycling organisations and activists.
The success of this Freedom Ride reflects the growing enthusiasm for cycling amongst Joburg residents and bodes well for the success of the Eco-Mobility World Festival, to be held in Sandton CBD during October 2015.
It was also the culmination of the first ever Cycle Jozi Week which was held to encourage cycling as a mode of transport to reduce traffic congestion, reduce carbon emissions from cars and encourage a healthy life style as well as introduce the cycle lanes being built in and around the city.
Muhammed Suleman, an organiser and participant in the Freedom Ride, had the following to say “It was a perfect day to cycle through the City and the experience of riding through Alexandra was phenomenal. The community came out to cheer us on in force. All the riders in our group were overwhelmed by the community support and a powerful feeling of community spirit. Cycling in Joburg is safe and accessible to all.”
A cyclist from Soweto, said “It was a historic ride linking communities, great for tourism and road safety. I rode to honour the spirit of Freedom in our country
In recent years, under the direction of Executive Mayor Parks Tau, Johannesburg has launched a number of initiatives to transform the City including Corridors of Freedom to ensure future growth of the City are based on the principles of transit-oriented development, Complete Streets to transform our cities for all road users – including cyclists and the ongoing roll out of the Rea Vaya BRT and other forms of quality public transport.
However, these large infrastructural investment programmes need to be accompanied by initiatives to promote behavioural change. It is for this reason that the City is partnering with ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability in October this year to host an EcoMobility World Festival.
Speaking at the launch of the EcoMobility World Festival this week, Johannesburg’s Executive Mayor, Cllr Mpho Parks Tau says the City “wants to show that an ecomobile future is possible and that public transport, walking and cycling can be accessible, safe and attractive.”
Major long-term changes to transport patterns are envisaged for Sandton and the Festival will offer residents and visitors to the suburb a glimpse of a future where public transport takes precedence and infrastructure is in place to encourage walking and cycling.
The Freedom Ride was the final event of the Cycle Jozi Week held to promote cycling in the city and is held annually to link the affluent communities of Sandton with the poor communities of Alexandra.
Johannesburg’s Mayor, Cllr Mpho Parks Tau, an avid pedaler, was one of the cyclists and used the opportunity to promote cycling and walking among city residents as viable alternatives to motorised forms of transport. “I was very happy to see that so many Johannesburg residents came to share this special ride with us today,” he said afterwards.
Events hosted as part of Cycle Jozi Week included:
* The launch of the first Johannesburg commuter cycling map by Johannesburg Urban Cyclists Association on 14th February 2015
* A Community Safety Awareness and Cycle Ride along new Cycle Lanes between Fourways and Diepsloot attended by 126 riders, mostly commuters from Diepsloot who travel each day from Diepsloot to places as far afield as Illovo and Saxonwold;
* A ride with 140 learners and community members in Orlando along the newly completed cycle lanes on 17 February 2015
* A workshop hosted by SAICE and attended by 100 engineering and planning professionals and government officials to learn how to design and build cycle friendly infrastructure;
* Two Lunch time rides using the new lanes on 18 and 19 February to profile the newly constructed cycle and way finding lanes in and around Braamfontein, Auckland Park and Sophiatown. There was also a lunch time ride in Sandton on 20th March 2015.
* A National Cycle Cities workshop on 20th March attended by 150 government officials and cycling stakeholders to discuss how to enable and support cycling in all South African cities.
The City of Johannesburg would like to thank all participants in the week’s events and encourages all citizens to continue to cycle to work, school and for enjoyment.
Source: City of Johannesburg Press Release