A fatal accident on Bottelary Road has shaken the cycling community.
The road, which runs from Kuils River to Stellenbosch, is popular with cyclists because of its wide reserve and scenic views, but on Saturday January 28 a car hit two cyclists on the road, near Stellenbosch, killing one.
Shane Griffin and his friend, Gregory Basson, both from Somerset West, were cycling on the road just before 8am. According to Mr Griffin, the car hit them from behind, critically injuring Mr Basson.
On social media, Mr Griffin said one of the men in the car was “in uniform” and got out to help. He did not elaborate on what sort of uniform but referred to him as the “fireman” for the rest of the post: “The motorist and two friends had been at a party all night, then drove through to Cape Town to continue. I believe the club they went to was closed so they headed on back home. They stopped in Kuils River to purchase products to keep them awake (this is as per police). The black Golf that hit us stopped about 100m down the road. We do have photos to prove the distance due to fellow cyclists who took the photos.”
Mr Griffin said several cyclists stopped to help, and he thanked them on Facebook. He escaped with minor injuries, but Mr Basson was taken to hospital where he died.
The Northern News contacted Mr Basson’s wife, Zamin, but she was too overwhelmed by the incident to talk to us.
Lieutenant Colonel André Traut said police were investigating a culpable homicide.
Social media posts said there were three men in the car and that they had been arrested but police said no one had been arrested.
According to Mr Griffin, he and Mr Basson had been cycling close to the edge of the road..
“The yellow line verge to the side of the road is 2.2m. The car collided with us 20cm from the edge of the road. How more far left must we cycle?” he asked.
The incident put the contentious issue of cyclists’ safety back on the radar, only weeks after the City put its draft cycling strategy up for public comment.
On the Durbanville Community Facebook page, Celeste Schovell-Domingo wrote: “I pray for the day that I can send my sonny to school on his bicycle without a worry about his safe arrival.”
Simon Marais wrote: “You can’t just paint a line with a picture of a bike and call it a bike track. It needs to be a dedicated, separate track. It’s the only way to separate cars and bikes.”
Others commented on the City’s draft cycling and integrated public transport strategies (IPTS).
Sean Noble wrote: “I read the IPTS strategy and it’s a very high-level document. It reads more like a document designed for commuting rather than a multi-function strategy to allow for safe commuting, and recreational access. But, hey, at least there is a strategy of sorts.”
Maritha Roukema wrote: “There are due processes to follow. It takes time to get to actual implementation stage. Fact is, the community needs to submit input and if community comments on the need for safer cycling lanes this should be considered. No comments: no perceived need.”
Robert Vogel, of Pedal Power, a cycling advocacy group, said the public benefit organisation was “very happy” that the cycling strategy had reached the public participation phase. “We are busy formulating our response for input,” he said, adding: “There’s not enough cycling infrastructure.”
Infrastructure alone though would not make cycling safer, he said. Cycling would need to be integrated with other transport modes, including pedestrians and this need a “mindset” change, he said.
Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said new non-motorised transport (NMT) facilities, such as cycle lanes and universally accessible walkways, had been provided along Old Paarl Road, Kraaifontein, and in Bloekombos, Wallacedene, Northpine and at Kraaifontein Station.
“Cycle lanes were also implemented along the major roads in the Bothasig and Edgemead areas with additional cycle lanes planned for the Monte Vista area to complete the cycle network in this area,” he said.
More were planned for Fisante-kraal and Jip de Jager Drive. City-wide surveys have shown that about 3 000 commute by bicycle in the morning, he said.
“Currently, cyclists have access to at least 450km of cycle lanes across the city, some of which are separate from the road,” he said.
The cycling strategy is open for comment until Tuesday February 21.