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​Cycle Jozi Week gets off to a flying start

Cycle Jozi Week, an initiative of the City of Johannesburg aimed at encouraging residents to embrace cycling as an alternative mode of transport and as a way to keep fit and healthy, got off to a flying start yesterday. 

More than 150 cyclists turned up for the 2.5km ride from Diepsloot to Fourways Shopping Mall to attend the official launch of the hectic, week-long event.

But many of the riders, who work in Bryanston and Sandton, did not even break a sweat as they cycle double the distance – if not longer – on a daily basis. Although it was already peak hour – the ride started just before 5pm – everything went well, with taxi drivers giving the cyclists, who were kitted in green reflective vests and helmets, their space.

The ride was, however, briefly interrupted at the busy traffic intersection near the mall, where traffic lights were not working because of on-going roadworks – to construct dedicated cycle lanes. At the launch ceremony, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Transport Councillor Christine Walters said it was pleasing to see Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau’s vision of a fit and healthy citizenry and a less congested city beginning to become a reality.

“We’re not only changing the city’s travelling habits by promoting cycling. This project seems to be brewing the consensus of critical mass in our bid to save the environment. Many people want to cycle. We’re grateful to our partners for making this launch a success,” Walters said.

She said cyclists wanted to be brought up to speed with the development of dedicated cycle lanes. “Their complaint is that right now taxis are driving over pedestrian lanes. They want barriers to be erected along the cycle lanes to stop taxis from overlapping. That will also make it safer for cyclists. So we will ask the Gauteng MEC for Transport [Ismail Vadi] to address the issue with the taxi associations,” she said.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development Councillor Chris Vondo, who like Mayor Tau is a keen cyclist and marathon runner, was also impressed with the turnout. He said he and the mayor took part in the 94.7 Cycle Challenge and the 45km Soweto Marathon earlier this year.

“We want to lead by example. By being here we’re showing that we care. This project is also important because we’re also promoting a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

It took the cyclists less than 20 minutes to ride from Diepsloot, where most of them live, to Fourways. Several events have been lined up to mark the week, which will culminate in the Freedom Ride from Alexandra to Sandton on Sunday.

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