New proposal for cycle-free Sea Point Promenade will benefit all users, says City of Cape Town

Dark clouds rolling in at Sea Point.

Dark clouds rolling in at Sea Point. Misha Jordaan/Gallo Images/File

The City of Cape Town has moved to appease cyclists and businesses, saying it wants to maximise the safety and enjoyment for all users of the Sea Point Promenade.

This according to the mayoral committee member for urban mobility, Rob Quintas, in the wake of strong criticism over a proposal to ban cyclists along the iconic stretch along the Atlantic Seaboard.

The City proposed transforming the promenade into a pedestrian-only zone, allowing cyclists, rollerbladers, and skateboarders to use the Beach Road pavement and banning motorised vehicles.

A detailed five-month investigation into who uses the promenade and how they use it, stated residents, particularly the elderly, had raised concerns about their safety.

“The potential for conflict or injury greatly increases when large-speed differentials exist between various modes that occupy the same facility,” said the 91-page report compiled by Mowana Engineers.

“The presence of high-velocity modes on a shared non-motorised transport facility increases the likelihood of pedestrian modes being taken by surprise while decreasing the reaction time required for pedestrian modes to adapt.”

READ MORE | Off your bike! Cycling businesses fume over pedestrian-only proposal for Sea Point Promenade

The report further suggested a partially dedicated cycle lane within the promenade precinct should take careful consideration of the social implications, would require some capital expenditure and take up to two months to construct.

It said during stakeholder meetings, concerns were raised that providing a dedicated cycle lane would create the potential for increased intolerance and aggression by cyclists.

The proposal is as follows:
  • Pedestrians should have exclusive use of the Sea Point Promenade, from where it starts in Mouille Point to the Sea Point Pavilion swimming pool.
  • Prams, wheelchairs and walkers should be allowed.
  • Cyclists on peddling bicycles, skateboarders, and rollerbladers should share the side pavement on the sea side of Beach Road.
  • No e-bikes, e-scooters, or motorised devices should be allowed on the promenade or on the pavement on the sea side of Beach Road.

The City asked residents to submit their comments on the proposal.

Quintas said the public participation process was primarily focused on the safety of all promenade users.

He added:

After increasing numbers of complaints to the ward councillor and sub-council over the last few years regarding altercations, accidents and injuries, and conflict within this space between pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, skateboarders and scooters, it was necessary for the City to look at the promenade holistically and put forward a proposal that would maximise safety and improve cohesion and enjoyment for all users.

“The key is that we want to find a way to allow people to use the Promenade safely and to try to accommodate all users in parts of the Sea Point Promenade as best as possible,” said ward councillor Nicola Jowell.She stressed that the plans on the table is just a proposal. “The proposals on the table are just that … and Promenade users are welcome to submit alternative proposals as part of their submissions.”

Jowell said she was aware of at least five incidents that required either hospitalisation or emergency room visits, adding she also received dozens of other messages of minor accidents.

“I have at least 200 other letters or messages of complaint or concerns from promenade users that they are no longer able to walk on the promenade due to being in an accident, near accident or being absolutely overwhelmed with concern for their physical safety from bicycle or scooter users.”

Jowell added the key issue was that real safety issues had been raised by numerous users with the Urban Mobility Department and it had to act and look at ways to address this.

The co-owner of Up Cycles Bicycle Rental, Jared Chaitowitz, said cycling on the promenade was a much-loved activity.

“A ban would be a step backwards for the City, which says it encourages active mobility but does not act accordingly,” he claimed.

“Not only will a ban endanger our business and the livelihoods of our more than 20 full-time employees, but it will also put an end to one of Cape Town’s most beloved, healthy and cost-effective outdoor activities,” Chaitowitz told News24 previously.

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