Safety for cycling in the city

Cape Town promotes cycling both as a sustainable method of transport and a great way to stay fit and healthy. It is also cheaper, often quicker than motor vehicles and contributes to a better all-round city.

However, not all our roads are designed to accommodate cyclists and motorists safely, and both must have respect for the “Rules of the Road.” This, together with common sense, can make cycling a safe and enjoyable activity. So before you venture out on your next ride or start to use your bicycle to commute to work, keep the following safety tips in mind

Cyclists stay alive at 1.5 – Motorists should ensure that they have 1.5m distance between your bicycle and their vehicle on the road at all times.

No helmet = no ride – Make sure your helmet is properly fitted and worn correctly. Riding without a helmet has been illegal in South Africa since 2004.

Be visible – Wear reflective gear. If you plan on riding after sunset or before sunrise, place flashing lights both at the front and rear of your bicycle.

Carry your emergency details with you – Have your contact details with you at all times in case of an accident.

Keep left, single file – Cyclists should always stick to the left of the road to make way for motorists and keep the 1.5m distance. Also remember to ride in single file.

Obey all traffic rules – As road users, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are required to obey all traffic laws – this includes making a full stop at an intersection.

Tell a friend or family member – Always let someone know when and where you are going.

Remember your manners – Indicate your intentions (for example if you are going to turn) and check that drivers have seen you. Make eye contact with them so that they know you are there, and thank them if they let you through.

Be prepared – If you are going to be cycling for a long time, make sure you have sufficient water and something to eat.

Carry spares – A spare tube, tyre lever and pump are the bare minimum.

Be vigilant – Ride in groups or with other people. If you are feeling unsafe, turn back.

Check your bicycle before you start your trip – Check for anything that may cause a flat tyre; also check your brakes and check for any loose nuts and bolts.

Bicycles and public transport

At the moment, bicycles are allowed on MyCiTi buses, but not on Golden Arrow Bus Services or Metrorail (although there have been exceptions on bicycle event days). This is under discussion with Metrorail.

Rules of the road for cyclists

Along with dedicated bicycle paths and lanes, cyclists may ride on any road open to cycling. This excludes freeways (like the M3, M5, N1 and N2) in and near Cape Town. Use cycle lanes wherever these exist. Remember that bicycles are regarded as vehicles and cyclists must obey certain laws in terms of the National Traffic Act 93 of 1996 and the National Road Traffic Regulations.

Regulations are as follows: Riding without a helmet is illegal, Always stop at all red traffic lights and all stop streets, and give way to pedestrians, Ride on the left of the road, You must be seated in your saddle, You must ride in single file, You may not deliberately swerve your bicycle from side to side and if you are riding on a public road where there is a bicycle lane, you must use that lane.