Carfree in Kalk Bay, Cape Town


One day every March, for 35,000 people in Cape Town and their supporters and families, it is “all about the bike”, as the city hosts the world’s largest individually-timed bicycle race.

But, for everyone else within hearing distance of the race, it is all about the car – and how to get by without it. That’s because Cape Town – not a city particularly friendly toward cyclists on every other day – closes some 120km or so of freeway and suburban roads to vehicles.

This year, a collection of non-racing cyclists decided to cash in on Cape Town’s “accidental” annual carfree day and make it “official”, laying claim to a little strip of main road between the Kalk Bay harbour, the beach and the city’s most picturesque rail line on the one side, and the race-route on the other. Traffic police kept private cars out at the cycle tour end, and orange bollards and a security guard discouraged cars at the other. And so it happened that the bookshop, the baker and the pancake maker did a brisk trade for passers-by, dog walkers and race-watchers; children (and a few grown-ups) drew chalk patterns on the tar, and Sunday morning felt suitably slow-paced and carfree. Far more effective than a road sign-post saying, “slow down, children playing”, is, er, children playing.

“Where do you usually ride?”, I asked one small boy in a crash helmet. “Nowhere”, he said. “It’s my first time.” Then he laid down on his skateboard to recover…

Gail Jennings

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *