This will end well… (not)

Stand by for quite possibly the worst decision to hit Cape Town since they allowed me to live here:

City opens Sea Point Promenade to cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers during Transport Month

Yep. You read it right. The already congested Sea Point Promenade is about to be opened to “users of alternative transport methods, also known as Active Mobility”.

As David Moseley tweeted:

Cyclists on Sea Point promenade. Plus loony runners. Plus dopey dog walkers. Plus elderly strollers. Hello Prom Carnage. Daft, utterly daft.

Of course, our friend Councillor Brett Herron reminded everyone:

Cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers must, in all cases, give right of way to pedestrians, prams and wheelchair users, and travel at a safe and sensible speed.
“We have consulted local representatives for the various types of non-motorised transport, who have offered to launch Twitter and Facebook campaigns to remind their members of the basic rules of etiquette expected from Active Mobility users on the promenade,” said Councillor Herron.

So that’s alright then, because we know that cyclists are law-abiding citizens at the best of times. And yes, I know that someone will comment on here that they are a law abiding cyclist and so are all the cyclists they know. Been there, read that, seen you on the roads.

Has this decision been sponsored by MediClinic or something? I recognise it’s just a trial period and I’m sure that the best will be made of whatever decision is made at the end of the trial, but how many people are going to get hurt on the first sunny evening of October?

But wait, just in case you didn’t think that this was risky enough, this:

This trial period will also cater for the increasing numbers of tour guides taking groups of cycling tourists along key scenic routes in the city.

Groups. Of. Cycling. Tourists.

Groups of cycling tourists on Sea Point Prom.

It’s like the perfect storm of potential injury. Why not blindfold everyone and add some crocodiles as well, just to ensure maximum carnage?
Hell, why not blindfold the crocodiles too.
Hilarity will ensure.
I promise.

Why can every Cape Town resident on social media immediately see that this is a seriously flawed plan, yet the council – presumably having weighed up the pros and cons – think it is a good idea?

While completely appreciating the idea that the Prom is “a treasure to be shared with people from all over Cape Town and beyond”, I can’t see this ending well. At all.

Comments below, please…

On lawlessness…

Timothy left this comment on the blog today:

South Africans are LAWLESS. Every day my jaw drops at, in particular, our driving. No indicating, hogging the fast lane, parking anywhere, no servicing and billowing smoke out the back etc etc.
I often wonder what goes on (or doesn’t) in these people’s minds. Is it deliberate, or pure ignorance, or a heady mix?

And I wrote this some time ago:

the laws are there, but the fact that they’re just not enforced means that the driving public feel that they don’t have to obey them.

These facts have been proven further to me on the roads over the last few days.

Firstly, an unsecured toddler on the back seat of a Mazda 323. No, this isn’t a good thing, but sadly it’s something we’re well used to here in SA. So picture my delight when a traffic police car pulls out behind said Mazda. And then picture my disgust when said traffic police officer interacted with the Mazda, not by stopping it and fining the driver to high heaven, but by waving to the child through the back windscreen.

And then today, after a massive road smash on the M5 this evening – one car on its roof on the central reservation – tow trucks, fire engines, ambulances everywhere – and the traffic police, standing by, but not actually doing anything because right then, it was all about the other emergency services doing their thing. Fair enough.

All of which meant that the traffic police officer had plenty of time to chat the incident with the cyclist who had pulled over. I hope it all worked out ok. And it was kind of weird to see a traffic officer and a cyclist discussing… hey… hang on a second. Cyclists aren’t allowed to cycle on the M5 – where were the traffic officers while this conversation was going… hey… hang on a second – they were talking with him.

I don’t think that I need to add much of a conclusion here. Even the more intellectually-challenged of my readers can see where I’m going with this. When even the police don’t give a damn, we have a problem.

Frankly, I’m rather depressed by the whole thing.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, in France

The Pick n Pay Cycle Tour Coffee Table Book post

This all started with a comment on a post here a few weeks back. The comment was unrelated to the post in question and it had the commenter’s cellphone number on it, so I didn’t publish it. It was merely a means of making contact with me [you can do that by email here].
Here’s the comment, with the cellphone number removed:

Hello there. I am publishing a book on the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour,. I’d value chatting to you or communication via e mail if you have the inclination?


To which I politely responded:

Hi Richard,

Thanks for your comment on 6000 miles…
How may I be of assistance?


Bing! Incoming:


I am publishing a coffee table book on the history of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour. It’s the tour’s 35th anniversary next year. I would like to invite you to consider writing a piece for publication in the book that shares your reminiscences and experiences of the tour, together with a possible for photgraph/s for inclusion.

Let me know your thoughts?

Richard Webb

I had to read it twice just to make sure I’d read it right the first time. Then I had to go away, have some coffee, have some more coffee and read it again. I was unsure how to respond.

For new readers, who may not know my feelings on the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour (and cyclists in general), here are some few soundbites from this blog (all of which can be seen in context by clicking the links):

More cyclists on the road means more red lights and stop signs ignored, more 6-wide pelotons to avoid and more wobbling, weaving idiots more concerned with their chat than with their direction. [link]

Better not have a heart attack today if you live on the route. Getting an ambulance to you will probably take a bit too long. Anyway, it’s far more important that some poorly-prepared 55 year old from Bloemfontein gets to the local cardiac care unit first, because he has a bike and is wearing lycra. [link]

And all the parlance in all the local pubs is about “going sub-three” and stuff. (I was hugely disappointed when I found out that this was time to do the race and not metres underwater.) [link]

As hundreds of cyclists veered and wobbled all over the Main Road and ignored the traffic lights through St James and Kalk Bay this morning, as they do most Sunday mornings, I came up with a brilliant new Sunday morning drinking game. [link]

All of these are topped, however, by the annual hits-fest that is the Those Cape Argus Results In Full post, written for Argus Day 2009 and which is a MUST READ. Especially each Argus Day when it gets MUCH READ.

If only Richard had done that first.

I thought it was about time I did as Richard said and let him know my thoughts. To that end, herewith my response to him, post coffees and re-reading:

 Hi Richard,

I wish you well with your endeavours. However, I think you may have contacted the wrong person for this.
While I appreciate the business and publicity that the cycle tour brings to the Cape Town area, I loathe the disruption and inconvenience it causes and the arrogance and selfishness of the cyclists that it attracts to the Mother City.
I’d be happy to write something to this end for your publication, however, I feel that it might not be in keeping with the image of the cycle tour that you wish to portray.

All the best with your work,


But hey, what do I know? Maybe Richard’s book is actually an honest appraisal of the Cycle Tour – accepting that there are negatives with the positives, that there are tales of annoyance alongside the tales of achievement. Maybe this is going to be a watershed moment among the plethora of blinkered, sycophantic books about the wonders of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour.

Or, er… not:

Thanks, 6k.

You are right, I probably don’t have the right guy.
All the best and thanks for communicating with me.


And so it ends.
My name will not be in print on coffee tables across the world.

On a serious note, if you feel that you may have something to contribute to Richard’s book, I am happy to put you in touch with him and him with you.
Just make sure your story has at least three superlatives per sentence, ok?

Breakfast & Baboons & Buffoons at the Porter Estate Market

It’s been a while since we headed down to Zwaanswyk and the Porter Estate Saturday Morning Market. Lots to see and do here, but first, it was breakfast time and while the kids amused themselves in the sandpit and on the jungle gym, I amused myself with bacon, egg, veal sausage and onion. Which was nice and exceptionally good value at R40.

Add to that an enamel cupful of the local Moer Koffie:

Now, Moer Koffie is a strong, dark brew. The kind of stuff you want to drink after you’re had a moer se nag out on Long Street, like we had. I’m not even sure what type of beans are in there and honestly, I don’t think anyone really cares because the senses are far too intrigued by the enamel cups and condensed milk condiments. Please promise me that you won’t try it with the illusion that Moer Koffie is going to effortlessly win any awards, because I really don’t think that’s the point. Even still, it’s still worth the experience of drinking something other than the usual brands that ferry their wiles through the mainstream.

You have to be a bit careful at fresh produce markets like these. The produce is good and rather difficult to resist – olives, bread, olives, sausage, olives and olives – but it’s also often expensive. The lamb chops at R98 a kilo are a good example.
Oh, and this morning, you also had to be careful to avoid mountain bikers cycling through the market. There’s actually no sign saying that they can’t cycle right through the middle of the couple of hundred people (and kids) there, but I think that’s probably because it should just be common sense. After all, it’s not like there are signs in multi-storey car parks telling you not to jump off the top floor or at Spur telling you to slap the kids in the playroom – it’s simply reasonable behaviour.

Cyclists claim that they get picked on a lot, but in my opinion, they deserve it.
This guy is the exception that proves the rule:

One further issue at the market this morning was the troop of about 40 baboons which was heading towards the market when we arrived. Fortunately, they stayed away, as they would surely have ransacked the place and eaten all the pricey lamb chops.

Do baboons like olives?

Cyclists still at it

As yet another cyclist was knocked off his bike in Fish Hoek this weekend:

David Swingler was injured while cycling along Kommetjie Road in Fish Hoek late on Saturday morning.
Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn said Swingler and a white Toyota Quantum minibus taxi had been travelling in the same direction on the dual-lane road. They tried to change lanes at the same time and Swingler was hit from behind by the taxi.
“The cyclist allegedly wanted to go into the right lane and the taxi into the left lane at the same time,” Steyn said.

Pedal Power Association vice-chair Elton Davids said although the recent spate of accidents involving cyclists had made many others reluctant to venture out, some were “not obeying the rules of the road”.
“They are not making it any easier for themselves,” he said.

And even the dangerously subjective Cape Argus finally admitted that not every cyclist is as pure as the driven snow:

Out on Ou Kaapse Weg, tempers frayed as motorists battled with cyclists for right of way on Saturday.
Motorists told Weekend Argus there had been scores of cyclists on Ou Kaapse Weg, and while most were cycling within the yellow lane, others either tailgated motorists or rode in front of cars.

Dave Bellairs, director of the cycle tour, said they did not condone cyclists disobeying the rules of the road, as they was for their own safety. But he pointed out that the majority of cyclists obeyed the rules of the road.

“Obeying the rules of the road is for the safety of the cyclist and the motorist and it shows mutual respect.”

A motorist said cyclists on Ou Kaapse Weg were riding three abreast. Another said a cyclist tailgated him on the scenic mountain drive.
Photographer Chad Chapman said even though most of the cyclists obeyed the rules, he saw some at the summit picking up speed and sweeping into the traffic lane, cycling in front of cars.

Meanwhile, in Milnerton:

Oh Lordie…
This morning, at half past dark, coming down the R27 to work, the fog/mist was so thick that in places visibility was down to 50m.
At Woodbridge Island, scene of Saturday’s unfortunate death, it was especially heavy, and just past that, what do i see…?
Some **** on a bicycle, black shorts on, dark top, dark helmet, dark backpack, a rear light consisting of about 2 LEDs, and NO front light.
Now, one would have assumed that given the blanket coverage in all the Cape papers and other media, this two-wheeled tit would have ‘caught a wake up’.

Obviously not.

Live by the sword… die by the sword. But is this message finally beginning to get through their thick helmets?

EDIT: Please see Ordinary Life’s comment below with links to (allegedly – I haven’t read them yet) sensible posts about cyclists taking responsibility for their safety on the roads.