By John Tuerijama
THE Namibia Cycling Federation (NCF) president Rolf Adrian recently presented the Mayor of the City of Windhoek (CoW) Muezee Kazapua with a petition demanding the creation of cycling lanes and paths throughout the city.
Handing over the petition, Adrian stressed that the cycling federation is urgently requesting the City, the Ministry of Works and Transport and the National Assembly to create a network of demarcated, protected cycle lanes and routes throughout the city. He said the demarcated cycling lanes must be constructed with an urgent focus on the western and northern suburbs, and with the long-term aim of making Windhoek a bicycle-friendly city. Adrian further said that within the short space of about six weeks the ‘petition’ was sign by a wide diversity of over 2000 citizens.
“We believe it is a true expression of the wish of many Windhoek residents who will like to use a bicycle for transport or recreation, but who find conditions on our streets highly intimidating at present,” said Adrian. “We have moreover noted that progressive cities around the world are making proper provision for cyclists because of the economic, health and environmental benefits.”
He said the ‘sustainable urban transport master plan of 2013’ created an expectation that by now Windhoek would have made significant progress in providing for non-motorized transport. However, despite the long delay, that they (NCF) have allegedly noticed does welcome the City of Windhoek with the assistance from GIZ has appointed consultants to develop a ‘strategic plan for non-motorized transport of which the NCRF has made themselves available to assist in the process.
He said that in their view, the provision for safer cycling in Windhoek could be expedited by rapidly identifying a network of cycle routes throughout the city.
“Along all these routes there must be appropriate signage and markings on the road to create awareness of cyclists.” “If the road is wide enough lines must painted on the left of the road to indicate the space allocated to cyclists,” he stressed.
The NCF president said that it can only be done quickly and at relatively low costs, and that it will clearly indicate the principle that roads must cater for a mix of users and not just cars.
Adrian said that consultation with local people and cyclists is essential in defining these routes.
He said: “We are willing to make a contribution in prioritising and popularizing such routes, and we can also assist in mobilizing cyclists and pedestrian paths must be built alongside the existing road within the road reserves but with separating space or barrier which must be sufficiently wide and smoothly paved.”
Adrian said that when major new roads are being built or re-built, especially in the northern and western suburbs, a separated cycle lane must be part of the planning and construction.
“The first such opportunity might be in the rebuilding of Monte Cristo road, nothing must be done to exclude cyclists from the western Bypass until such time as a separate cycle path has been built to the west of the Bypass.” He said attempts to bar cyclists from the Bypass without an alternative solution will probably cause serious conflict with cyclists. He further said that there additional steps that the City of Windhoek leadership can take in popularizing cycling such as closing the Independence Avenue from the Kudu to Garten Street be closed on 9 September from 08h00 to 18h00. “This will create a safe and sociable environment for citizens and families to enjoy the day without being in danger of collision with cars.” The NCF president has warned that CoW begin to monitor the quality if air in Windhoek to detect any excessive pollution by motor vehicles. In his respond, the Mayor of Windhoek said that he took note of the petition and the demand raised in it.
“I equally value the concerns and the City of Windhoek leadershipwill address the concerns raised in the petition.”
“We are in the process of a tri-partite development framework and are addressing the issue of cycling in the city.”
He said cycling is not just for competitions but for recreational purposes as they intend on creating Windhoek into a smart city were enjoyment such as cycling is a priority. Kazapua said the demarcation of cycling route has been their short term provision, and that the 2018/19 financial year will address the plight of cyclists and how it can be attended to. He said the political commitment is there to provide the much needed service to the communities, and ensure conducive environment, not just to the cyclists but to the pedestrians as well.
He said the proposed 9 September is an international car free day which is celebrated worldwide .
NCF Treasurer Justin Ellis could, however, not furnish this publication the statistics of accidents in the capital but did say that 11 percent of households in Windhoek do own bikes while eight percent have access to the bicycles.
He said that more and more people are steadily turning to bicycles as a mode of transport while others use the bicycle for health purposes.
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