The City’s cycling lanes cost millions of rands to build, but now the Pedal Power Association (PPA) is warning cyclists to steer clear of the lane near Paarden Eiland after a spate of muggings, the latest on Sunday November 27.
Three men attacked Maon Saxe, of Sunset Beach, on Sunday November 27, at 7.30am, snatching his bike and phone before running off.
Mr Saxe took to social media to alert others about the attack.
“I knew that particular spot was notorious for muggings and I should have waited for a few riders to ride together with, but I was limited for time and so decided to go ahead solo. This was at about 7.30am.
“I skirted around two of them but the third knocked me off my bike. They never harmed me after I fell off. My phone fell out and they took it and my bike. Fortunately, three amazing guys walking to work heard me screaming and got my bike back but the phone is gone,” said Mr Saxe.
Apart from a few grazes on his elbow, he escaped unharmed. But he won’t be riding on that stretch of cycle lane any time soon.
If cyclists must use the Paarden Eiland stretch, he advises them to wait for others and ride in a group.
“If no one comes, go on the highway or try to go through the harbour. It’s shocking we have to live in fear and can’t use a cycle lane that cost our city millions of rands,” said Mr Saxe.
PPA CEO Robert Vogel said the association had raised the issue with the City and transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron several times. It has issued a statement warning cyclists to stay off that stretch of lane. It says the City should close the route until it’s safe to use.
“Millions have been spent on the cycling lanes in and around the City of Cape Town, and it is important to ensure the safety of cyclists who make use of it,” said Mr Vogel.
Stretching from Blaauwberg to the City centre, the lane was built together with the MyCiTi project and was completed in 2011, at a cost of R23.5millon.
Mr Herron, said the City had installed CCTV cameras along the route some time ago.
“The incidents along this cycle lane are extremely worrying and frustrating for me, but I cannot see how we can undertake to prevent crime on a cycling route any more than we can do so anywhere else in our city,” he said.
Cyclists had arranged volunteer cycle patrols on the route a few years back, but these
“seemed to have faded out over time”.
The City would take a fresh look at the cycle lane to see if anything could be done “from a design perspective” to curb crime. However, that would take time, and cyclists would need to help the City find a short-term solution in the meantime, said Mr Herron.
The City did not have the resources to patrol the cycle lane 24/7, but it could help cyclists do it themselves, said Mr Herron. He also suggested cyclists start a WhatsApp group communicating departure/cycle times for safety in numbers.
Maitland police spokesman Constable Lorencial Johson said there had been many reports of attacks and muggings on the cycle lane in the Paarden Eiland area.
It was also the spot, he said, where Alan Winde, the MEC for Agriculture, Economic Development and Tourism, had been attacked in 2012.
“We monitor the area and we have alerted the Paarden Eiland City Improvement District who have cameras situated in the area,” he said.
The PPA has recommended re-routing the cycle lane through the harbour as a long term solution.