Give them an inch…

We told you about the Cape Town City Council’s bold plan to allow “active mobility” users onto the Sea Point Promenade during Transport Month here and then we let you know of the tragic (and wholly made up) case of the dead dog on the Prom here. The latter post garnered far more interest. Sigh.

The idea of opening up the Promenade to skateboarders, rollerbladers and cyclists has met with a mixed response. Those who engage in skateboarding, rollerblading and cycling were vocally supportive of the scheme, while those who valued their safety while walking on the strip were less enthusiastic and understandable sceptical of the request for cyclists to:

“in all cases, give right of way to pedestrians, prams and wheelchair users, and travel at a safe and sensible speed”

But then, this is just an experiment for the month of October, albeit that Brett Herron et al have made it perfectly clear that they want it to become a permanent thing as part of their “Inclusive City” (terms and conditions apply) plan, so obviously, rosy pictures will undoubtedly be painted of the 31 days in questions.

So there’s the preamble. And here’s the last paragraph of the letter from “keen cyclist” Anne-Marie Roodt of Three Anchor Bay in today’s Cape Times:

I do however suggest that the city council considers demarcating cycle and pedestrian areas on the promenade as the pedestrians more than often walk five or more next to each other, leaving no space for cyclists.

Oh oh. Here we go. Just two weeks into the trial period for cyclists to use the Promenade and already they are whining about other prom users, disputing the rules and making ridiculous requests.

Lest we forget, Anne-Marie, you are allowed to cycle on the Promenade during October only. You mention that you are a ratepayer in your letter, but you are really happy for them to demarcate the Promenade for the remaining fortnight of Transport Month? Do you have money to burn or something? Because if they were to do that, they’d have to wash it off on the 31st from when (obviously) you won’t be allowed to cycle on the Prom any more because the trial period will be over. What a waste of paint. Time. Money.

Unless you know something that we don’t? Like the fact that towards the end of October, the trial month will be declared an unqualified and resounding success by Councillor Herron and become the new status quo for the Prom?
It couldn’t be, could it?

Also, as a cyclist, keen or otherwise (and I’m no way doubting your keenitude), you are actually (and rightfully) a second class citizen on the Prom. You must “in all cases, give right of way to pedestrians, prams and wheelchair users”, remember?
That’s part of the agreement. If that annoys you, then go cycle somewhere else, like the numerous cycle paths off Somerset Road or around the Green Point Urban Park. They are helpfully demarcated for your keen cycling enjoyment.

As Councillor Herron pointed out:

…the promenade was not being opened for professional cycling or skateboarding tricks, but for the use of bicycles, skateboards and rollerblades for leisurely transportation purposes:

“The idea, from an urban planning perspective, is that the high density of pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers will have a slowing down effect on the general speed of traffic.”

And that makes it safer for everyone concerned. I’m sorry that you want to make things unsafe by going faster than the pedestrians are walking. Sometimes I want to go faster than the illegal four-wide pelotons of keen cyclists that congest Main Road in Kalk Bay every weekend, but as I’ve been told by keen cyclists so many times, that’s just hard luck, isn’t it?

Mark my words: this is just the first stage in Anne-Marie’s grand plan to ban pedestrians from Sea Point Promenade.

So, no, keen cyclist Anne-Marie Roodt, you’ve got your inch, don’t go trying to extend it to a mile.