“We have seen an influx of cyclists on freeways and a lot of people do not know that it is completely illegal to cycle on a freeway. Not only that, but it is extremely dangerous.
“There is a misconception that the national freeways are safer for bicycles. The truth is cyclists put themselves at greater risk of serious collision due to the higher speeds that motor vehicles can travel on freeways, up to 120km/h.”
Bakwena commercial manager Liam Clarke said the toll concessionaire had noticed a significant increase in the number of cyclists using its routes, most notably the sections closer to Pretoria and Rustenburg.
Clarke pointed to challenges that cyclists faced on public roads and freeways according to Arrive Alive:
- Vulnerability – if the collision speed exceeds 45km per hour, there is a less than 50% chance that the cyclist will survive the impact. Even at a low-impact speeds, cyclists can be badly injured. “Given that vehicles travel at speeds of up to 120km/h on the freeway, it becomes self-evident why cyclists should avoid these roads,” said Clarke.
- Flexibility – motorists can never be sure when or where to expect cyclists, especially in instances where some cyclists tend to ignore the road rules. “Cyclists are not expected on freeways and motorists are not looking out for them. This makes their situation highly precarious,” added Clarke.
- Invisibility – cyclists are often difficult to see, even if they are wearing reflective clothing. This is especially true at night.
- Estrangement – cyclists are often treated as nuisances on the roads and sometimes not seen to have equal road rights.
Clarke said cyclists needed to plan their journeys ahead of time so that they did not resort to using the freeway as a option.
“They should consider what routes to use and when they need to leave to get to their destinations in time. Cyclists who have smartphones can use a GPS app to plan their routes accordingly.
“The time of day that cyclists decide to travel is also important. According to international statistics, most cycling accidents occur on weekday afternoons and the risk of cycling accidents is four to five times greater after sunset.”
Safe cycling tips:
- Ask experienced cyclists in your area on which routes/roads they train and why they prefer those roads.
- Be alert to the risk that drivers in cars might be blinded by the rising or setting of the sun and might not see cyclists travelling on the side of the road.
- Watch out for surface conditions such as potholes and debris.
- Never ride your bike through puddles as there may be hazards hidden in the water that cannot be seen.
- Avoid travelling in the dark.
- There is strength in numbers. If possible, do not travel alone and rather find a regular partner to train with. This is also important especially in the event of an emergency.
- Inform friends and family of your cycling schedule, the road you will be cycling on and when you can be expected to return.
- Carry a fully charged cellphone with you so you can request assistance in the event of an emergency.