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With less than one per cent of all commuter trips in Johannesburg in South Africa being carried out on two wheels, it is not surprising that few people associate the African metropolis with colourful iron horses and green cycling paths. This may, however, soon be about to change. Through an active policy agenda, the City of Johannesburg has for a couple of years expressed great interest in finding ways to introduce cycling as an alternative mode of transport. The challenge is not to introduce the concept of cycling to the population, but rather to introduce it as a means of transportation and make it a habit for South Africans to exercise while transporting themselves.
As a first step towards making Johannesburg a greener place with happy cyclists on the city scene, two of COWI's transportation and planning experts from Denmark have been given the task to come up with recommendations on how to make Jo'burgers pedal their way to work. "This is in many ways a very exciting assignment," agree Project Manager Carsten Glenting and Cycling Expert Henrik Køster. "But it is also a complex job where serious issues such as traffic safety and personal safety are the primary barriers for turning the place into a cycling city," Carsten continues, referring to Johannesburg's high rates of crime and road accidents. To defeat these obstacles and to offer the best possible advice, COWI has teamed up with the Danish, independent consultant and ‘cycling guru’ Troels Andersen as well as Gehl Architects and Alta Planning & Design, the two latter agencies both specialized in turning large urban areas into cycling friendly places. All three partners have crucial experience within sustainable transport from New York, San Francisco and major Danish cities.
As part of phase one, COWI and its partners have been asked to carry out a pre-feasibility study of what public and public/private-sector projects would best enable, catalyze and support the scaling up of cycling in Johannesburg. The study includes preliminary recommendations on how to:
Both issues will be addressed on workshops planned and carried out by COWI in Johannesburg at the end of November.
By Pernille Bang-Ortmann
Transport planning and modelling
Bicycle transport and pedestrians
Public transport and ITS