This year Plainsman – Tatler’s sister newspaper – has partnered with Open Streets to offer a safe way for cyclists to get to Open Streets Mitchell’s Plain to test a new way to travel.
Cycling in Cape Town can be challenging because road users in our city are not always very kind to each other. But imagine you could travel with other cyclists, ensuring safety, company and visibility.
On Sunday April 2, you have the opportunity to join the Plainsman Bicycle Bus to get to Open Streets Mitchell’s Plain, a free community day that will see Eisleben Road, between Wespoort Drive and Spine Road, closed to cars and open to people instead.
According to Bicycle Cape Town, a bike bus is a group of people who cycle to work together. It’s called a “bus” because there’s a set timetable and route, so it can collect more “passengers” along the way. Cyclists may also leave it at various points – like a bus stop.
According to cycling advocate Kirsten Wilkins, “Bike buses can help bicyclists to get to know routes and gain confidence so soon they will be riding freely and easily after enjoying the shared knowledge of quicker and more cycle safe routes to commonly travelled destinations.”
There are many of these self-organised bike buses happening very organically. Groups like the Pedal Power Association (PPA) are always eager to see more of them emerge and support with equipment like reflective bibs for visibility.
In building on the aim of Open Streets Cape Town to reimagine streets, the bike bus gives people the opportunity to experience safe cycling and to test a new way to travel.
Even though it is a short-term experience and requires co-ordination to make sure everyone is safe and can enjoy the experience, the hope is that once people have tried the concept, they will realise what is possible and be open to the idea of cycling more often; particularly short distances.
Once you “get off” the bike bus in Mitchell’s Plain on April 2, you will find yourself in a car-free Eisleben Road where people will come together to explore the space and repurpose the street for a few hours. From sports and games to performances and street art, Open Streets will be an opportunity to build community and to connect with each other.
If you are not up for a cycle, remember the Open Streets experience is about moving around the city differently, and it begins when you step out of your home.
So, you can consider other forms of low-carbon transport such as jumping on the MyCiTi bus, the train, a minibus taxi, or walking if you live in the area.
There will be free bicycle rides for children at Open Streets Mitchell’s Plain, as well as other opportunities to experience a different type of movement.
The Plainsman Bike Bus will leave from Palmyra Junction in Claremont, at 10.30am on Sunday April 2. The 22km route runs along Imam Haron Road, to Rosmead Avenue, then into Ottery Road, Varkensvlei Road to Weltevreden Road, then Morgenster Road, Merrydale Avenue and then Wespoort Drive.
A return guided trip will leave Eisleben Road at 2.30pm for those wanting to double the fun.
Take your own working bicycle, a helmet, a water bottle and sun protection. For more information, and for regular updates, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1796162887372759/