Mobilise your friends and family members and cycle to work as often as possible from Monday 24 to Friday 28 October (can you perhaps manage to cycle to work the entire week?). Maybe you can use a train or bus for part of the route? Or how about using your car for part of the journey if you live too far from work, park on the outskirts of town and use a bicycle for the last part of your journey?
If that does not work for you, how about just trying to use your bicycle to pedal to the shop for bread or milk?
Who should commute?
Commuting ideally works best for people who have to commute up to 20 km per trip. Anything under 10 km and you are even likely to be faster on a bicycle than in a car or bus.
Some logistics around commuting
Firstly, you need to find a safe route: Check if there are any bicycle paths in your area, and use them where possible. You don’t have to duck motor vehicles on a bicycle path, and you can move swiftly ahead.
Alternatively, use quieter back roads, even if it means zig-zagging a bit, or incorporating paths through a park or across quiet early-morning parking lots. (Please do send us your cycling routes to share with other commuters.)
- Be visible: Wear bright clothing. The brighter and more reflective, the better.
- Be careful: Ride as if you are invisible, until you are sure a car has actually seen you.http://www.pedalpowe...s/img/trans.gif
- Always wear a helmet (it has been law in South Africa since 2004).
What about your work clothes?
The best way of getting your stuff to the office is to attach bike racks and panniers to your bike. Put your clothes in one pannier and your food for the day in the other. Alternatively, get a small backpack.
You could even take some spare clothes to work by usual transport a few days before and leave it at the office, so that you do not have to carry too much with you on the day.
If your office does not have shower facilities, try the following: Shower at home, and then have a gentle cycle to work. Cool down when you get to the office. Take some soap, a face cloth and small towel and have a “wash basin shower” when you get to the office before changing into clean clothes. It’s surprisingly effective.
Why are we supporting a “Cycle to Work” initiative?
We need to show the authorities that there exists a need for better utility cycling facilities. By showing that there are many South Africans who would consider cycling to work, we’ll be in a stronger position to lobby for Government support.
We also think it is simply a cool thing to do. Set an example for others, and see how many of your friends, family and co-workers you can motivate to start using the bicycle as a regular means of transport.
General cycling tips:
- Ride defensively but decisively: Follow the K53 principles and keep a clear space around you. Make it easy for a driver to anticipate what you are going to do (e.g. stopping your bicycle, turning left or right, etc) so that he/she can act accordingly. Ride in a straight line without swerving unnecessarily from side to side.
- Indicate your intentions and check if the driver has seen you. Preferably get the driver to acknowledge you before turning in front of a vehicle. A quick smile and a “thank you” wave generally works wonders.
- Wear gloves. It improves grip on the handlebars, and may save some skin should you get into contact with the tar (most cyclists put their hands out to break a fall).
- Be careful: Ride as if you are invisible to traffic until you are sure a car has noticed you.
- Do not ride in the gutter or close to parked cars. Be aware of drivers of parked cars suddenly opening a car door. Ride wide and take the lane if it is not safe for a car to pass you. Watch out for glass on the road, cat-eyes, drain covers, oil, sand etc, which can often be found in the far left of the gutter.
- Use lights (a steady white light in front and a flashing red light at the back) if you ride in the dark, dawn or dusk. In fact, consider having a flashing red rear light at all times, even in the middle of the day.
- Always carry identification with you. Programme the details of your next-of-kin into your cellphone under ICE (In Case of Emergency). Carry your medical aid details with you, if applicable. Have identification both on your bicycle and on your person, should you get separated.
- Do not use an iPod or phone while riding! You need to be able to hear approaching traffic, or other cyclists who may be warning you about a problem. You cannot do so if you are listening to an iPod. Be sensible, and leave the iPod for the gym.
Where may you ride?
You may cycle on any public road other than a freeway, or where expressly forbidden by law. This means, near Cape Town, that the Blue Route and M5 are OFF LIMITS, as are any roads that are signposted to be accessible only to e.g. official vehicles or goods vehicles.
The law says you must ride on the left of the road, but that does not mean the edge of the road. Ride a safe distance from the edge to avoid road debris.
Where should you rather not ride?
- Narrow, twisty roads without a yellow lane (road shoulder) often pose problems for cyclists because cars battle to pass cyclists and, when there is not enough space, “squeeze” the cyclists off the road. If such a road is part of your day-to-day commuting road – please take extra care and make sure you wear highly visible clothing.
- Examples of the above include Constantia Nek into Hout Bay; Rhodes Drive
- (Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch); Newlands avenue (Kirstenbosch to the M3); Main Road Kalk Bay, and the like.
Enjoy your commute!