Of bike racks and number plates

Observation: There are huge numbers of cars on the roads of Cape Town and the routes down to Cape Agulhas which have cycle racks obscuring their rear number plates.

This is obviously illegal (if I had a better internet connection, I’d lob in a link to the specific law here, but I don’t, so I can’t), but that doesn’t seem to bother these motorists, presumably for three reasons:

Firstly, the old South African belief that rules are there for someone else and don’t, for some bizarre reason, apply to you.
Secondly, the complete lack of enforcement – because why should you give a toss if the local police don’t?
And thirdly, because of course the majority of these people are cyclists and don’t give a flying fishcake for the rules of the road anyway.

But then, I got a cycle rack for Christmas. And yes, given my stance on cyclists generally, that probably deserves some explanation.
And the explanation is this: Boy got bike for Christmas, boy wants to ride bike all the time, especially on the dirt roads, sand dunes and annoyingly snake-riddled tracks of Cape Agulhas. Being seven, he cannot do this alone. Two bikes in the back of a car just doesn’t work. And there will be a third just as soon as Miss 6000 realises what fun her brother is having.
Thus it had to be done, but my son (and daughter) will grow up cycling the way I do: obeying traffic signals, being respectful to other road users and not wearing lycra. Oh, and none of that stupidly expensive bike business, either, unless they’re going to do it for a living.

The cycle rack did give me a bit of an issue though – namely the number plate one above.
Presumably, extra number plates are hugely difficult, time consuming and/or expensive to get hold of, otherwise, all those individuals with bike racks would surely have just given a nod to the establishment by getting one and sticking it on the back of their sideways bikes. And here I group them with the Jaguar drivers that “can’t afford” hands-free kits for their cellphones and the Audi owners who “can’t source” car seats for their unrestrained children.
Yes, those dickheads.

And I only had Friday to sort it out – Wednesday and Thursday being public holidays and Saturday (today) being the day we were leaving. Where to start? Well, firstly, I looked in the Yellow Pages, found a shop that printed number plates and got one made in 5 minutes for R100. Then… well… actually, that was it.

Suffice to say, I now have even less time and respect for those cyclists who hide their plates behind their R30,000 bikes on their R3,000 racks on their R300,000 cars, because they’re obviously just arrogant, lazy, tight-fisted, lycra-clad tossers.

Norwegian cyclist video to inspire Chappies stunts?

We’ve had a pop at cyclists and their errant behaviour before here on 6000 miles…, but we’ve yet to see much that  could equal this for sheer bravery stupidity. Here’s Norwegian nutter Eskil Ronningsbakken – Scandinavian cycling’s answer to Jonny Knoxville – riding his bike down Trollsigen.

Backwards.

Did you see that car passing him at 1:08? He was never a metre away. Arrest that driver!

Because our local cyclists are ever so edgy and like to do dangerous things, like riding in the dark with no lights and whizzing through red robots, I reckon it’s only a matter of time before we see this sort of thing happening on Chapman’s Peak Drive, possibly with less success than Eskil.

I foresee a lucrative scrap metal business opening up on the east side of Hout Bay.

Music is Lindsay Stirling’s Elements. Nice.

Cyclists must now “stay alive at 1…”

Ooh. Cyclists. My favourite people.

The new cycling laws come into force in the Western Cape today, and the biggie is that, as a driver, you must allow at least 1 metre between the side of your vehicle and any cyclist or you will be a criminal. I’m not sure that this will make cyclists feel any safer, given that people generally completely disregard any other traffic laws with impunity anyway.

I’ve done a handy PDF version of the new regulations for you.

Quite what happened to the mantra of “Cyclists stay alive at 1.5”, I’m not sure. Presumably, around 33% more cyclists will not be making it safely back from their ride now. Obviously, this is sad.

Also, drivers are now allowed to cross a solid white line to pass a cyclist as long “it is safe to do so”, which is a bit weird, because if it was safe to cross the solid white line, then there wouldn’t be a solid white line there, would there?

What is quite interesting is that there are some rules for cyclists included in the new regulations as well. Obviously, the cyclists are up in arms about this (the discussion on the new laws is taking place in the “Rant & Rave” section of the local cyclists forum), because they’ve been reminded of all the rules that they should have been obeying anyway.
Have you got a front and rear reflector on your bike? Didn’t think so.
In addition, predictably, the laws for motorists apparently don’t go far enough and the laws for cyclists are too strict, ill-thought out or just annoying. Sample quote:

I will no [sic] be complying with the provisions of this law which I feel do nothing to improve my safety.

Of course you won’t, because we can all pick and choose which laws we want to comply with, can’t we? Idiot.

No. Don’t be so silly, because what these new regulations do is reiterate the rules which both drivers and cyclists must abide by, reminding road users that everyone needs to be responsible for their own safety and the safety of others, and that can only be a good thing in the efforts to prevent unnecessary road deaths.

With that in mind, obviously, if a driver breaks the law, by, say, going withing 95cm of a cyclist, then you can report them by taking down their car registration number and informing the authorities.
Equally, when you see the lycra-clad peloton of cylists going through the red traffic lights at Kalk Bay six abreast on Sunday, you can… erm… you can… right. You can’t.

Hmm.

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.

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…