“There can be no doubt that the time has come for action and investment from government to make our roads safer for the cyclists of South Africa,” says Steve Hayward, chairman of Pedal Power Association, South Africa’s largest cycling association with more than 15 000 members.

It is common knowledge that the number of cyclists and motorists on the roads are increasing each year. “Without a positive intervention from Government, we are going to be seeing more of these unfortunate incidents. Cyclists will be maimed and killed whilst motorists will start going to jail. Representing the broader cycling community – commuters as well as recreational and competitive cyclists - we as PPA challenge the authorities to do more in the protection of the cycling community. This starts in checking the competency of the motorist at a testing level, as well as providing more space for cyclists at a road planning level” says Hayward.

The PPA hears from cyclists across the country who says they feel unsafe on the roads due to poorly designed roads, aggressive driving and the lack of signage as well as not enough safe cycling lanes. “To date no motorists responsible for the death of cyclists have received a meaningful sentence, some even getting off scot-free,” explains Hayward. “There is obviously something wrong with our legal justice system and PPA is not going to sit and watch as criminals get away with murder. If this case has merit, PPA will take the necessary action. As in other cases currently underway, PPA will appoint attorneys/advocates to assist the families,” says Hayward.

According to Hayward, government must work simultaneously on two fronts: To reduce the overall number of casualties while increasing the total number of cyclists on the road.

“Making cycling safer for people of all ages requires us to think about the kind of communities we want to live in,” explains Hayward. “We must accept that cycling is a valid form of transport. In too many cases cycling is treated as an optional extra to be added where there is enough ‘spare space’, and in so doing have failed to protect cyclists,” Hayward explains.

Road infrastructure projects should also consider the safety of cyclists from the earliest stage of planning and development. Beyond infrastructure, authorities should use all the tools at their disposal to promote the safer sharing of the road between drivers and cyclists. “The PPA wishes to encourage local government to consider introducing traffic-calming measures in high-risk areas, to improve the safety of all road users,” says Hayward.

“Starting from the principle that every driver and cyclist should obey the law and treat each other with respect, we suggest that no driver should in future receive a licence without demonstrating a level of respect for more vulnerable road users, including pedestrians,” says Hayward. “The PPA also calls for drivers to be assessed more closely to check their approach to sharing the road with cyclists as well as other road users. Cycle training should also be made available for cyclists of all ages,” Hayward concludes.