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Save our Cyclists

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A call for safer roads

Last Month a wife lost her husband, children lost their father and the world lost a good citizen when an avid cyclist, Warren February’s life was cut short in a tragic road accident.

Although this was the first accident involving a cyclist this year, like the Botswana Cycling Association (BCA) Secretary General, Tlamelo Dube rightly pointed out at February’s memorial, one death is one too many.

49 -year -old February’s death put the issue of cyclists’ safety on the spotlight culminating in BCA handing over a petition to the Minister of Transport and communications soon after the incident.

A simple research by The Voice newspaper has since indicated that in 2013, 79 cyclists were involved in road traffic accidents with no fatalities recorded.

The following year however 64 cyclists were involved in road accidents and five of those died while last year three cyclists were killed on the road.

The message is clear. Cycling in this country of a small population of 2 million people is a hazardous activity.

In fact the sport is so dangerous that following February’s death his colleagues were forced to revise the way they ride, Kitso Motshidisi, of Cycle 4 Life, an organization, which often cycles for benevolent causes, has said.

Speaking in an interview Motshidisi said, “ We have resolved to have very strong light reflectors and bulbs on our bicycles and to always cycle in a group of about 10, one after the other. A group increases visibility.”

This week BCA however took the campaign for cyclists’ safety a notch higher and decided to call for safe cycling and walking routes to be incorporated in city planning and to hold politicians accountable by demanding to know what their plans were for different cities.

“ We have been lobbying for cycling road signs similar to the ones at Extension 9 on the state house road to be placed on other inner roads for years. Local government never has a budget, but we can’t just simply stand by and watch as cyclists keep on losing their lives because of lack of political will. It has to change,” said Motshidisi.

In his response to the cyclists concerns, Gaborone city former Mayor and now Member of parliament for Gaborone North, Haskings Nkaigwa said during his time as the city father they had agreed to include cycling and walking routes on every new road that was to be built.

KAgiso Thutlwe and Wynter Mmolotsi
SUPPORTIVE: Kagiso Thutlwe and Wynter Mmolotsi

The current Mayor , Kagiso Thutlwe said it was still the Gaborone City Council’s vision to turn the capital into an ‘attractive and safe diamond city.”

“ We can’t achieve that vision without sidewalks and safe internal roads. Although we have not benefited from the Urban Development Plan 3 as far as internal road development is concerned, we are hopeful that we would be catered for in the Urban Development plan 4,” Thutlwe pointed out.

The Mayor also noted that although they haven’t achieved as much progress as they would had hoped in making the city safer for cyclists and pedestrians in the National Development Plan 10, at least the council has managed to incorporate dual cycling and pedestrian passages on the Western bypass connecting to the A1.

“ The road from Maruapula to Bull and Bush also has cycling routes although I must admit that many internal roads remain dangerous for cyclists” The mayor highlighted.

Meanwhile one of the second city legislators, Wynter Mmolotsi has said that for him the safety of pedestrians and cyclists is an issue that has been on the blind spot but now that it has been brought to his attention he will be prudent to address it in parliament.

“ I’ll craft a motion to push for more reforms to transform our cities road infrastructure to world class standards that would not only provide for the safety of cyclists but would also make cycling look like an attractive alternative mode of transport to driving. It is greener, cheaper and healthier after all, “ Said the MP for Francistown West in conclusion.

Help Hon. Wynter Mmolotsi succeed with his proposed reforms regarding cycling in Botswana by adding your Voice. Simply use your mouse to sign the below petition: