The Scenic South community website wishes our local and visiting cyclists a safe and successful Cycle Tour on the world’s most beautiful Peninsula. Your participation along with that of the tens of thousands of enthusiastic spectators along the 109km route has made the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour one of the world’s top sporting events.
I believe that a record number of over 40 000 entries have been received although 35 000 are expected to make the line-up on Sunday 13 March. This is a far cry from the 525 cyclists who lined up for the start of the first Argus Cycle Tour in 1978. Since those early days, the event has grown to what it is today, the world’s largest individually timed cycle race – and the first event outside Europe to be included in the International Cycling Union’s Golden Bike Series.
The Cycle Tour draws over 55% of its entries from outside of Cape Town and over 2500 visitors from overseas. This translates into good business, valued at over 100 million for the private sector. So apart from the Cycle Tour generating millions for charity, it has huge spin-offs for a wide range of businesses.
The Cycle Tour organiser’s comment that 35 000 cyclists is just about the maximum capacity that can be accommodated on the roads of our scenic South Peninsula of Cape Town. While the size of the tour itself can not grow, the experiences around the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour for both cyclists and spectators certainly can and is. Over 79 000 people participated in the Life Cycle Expo in 2010 and more are expected this time round. The Expo at the Good Hope Center is South Africa’s largest cycling, health and fitness exhibition and runs for three days from the 10 – 12 March. It is the culmination of Lifecycle Week which features the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Mountain Bike Challenge and the Tricycle Junior Cycle Tours. So there is just about something for everyone with a bike.
Did you know that the idea for the Cycle Tour can be traced back to 1978, when Bill Mylrea and John Stegmann organised the Big Ride-In to draw attention to the need for cycle paths. The Ride-In, held under the auspices of the Western Province Pedal Power Association, was well received and drew hundreds of cyclists, including the Mayor of Cape Town. From this event the idea of a long-distance race was planted. The Cape Argus newspaper stepped in to sponsor the race, and so the Argus Cycle Tour was born. (extract from Cape Town’s spectacular Cycle Tour in http://www.southafrica.info/about/sport/cycletour.htm)
We are 33 years down the road and to date the City of Cape Town has done more talking than doing with respect to safe cycling. The fact that the multi-million rand, 4year up-grade of Main Road between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek does not make provision for cyclists is a local case in point. A formal study demonstrated that the feasibility of a cycle route along this section was in fact possible, but implementation was not given the go-ahead!!!
The unpleasant and unhelpful letters to the press between cyclists and motorists are a loud cry for formalised cycle routes, but the response of the authorities has been slow. I believe that the majority of road users are reasonable and recognize the valuable role of both commuter and recreational cycling – for health, wealth and for an environmentally sustainable city. But we have a long way to go to deal with the very real physical constraints and attitudes of cyclist and drivers before Cape Town can claim to be a bike friendly city. A move in the right direction is the new Cape Town Bicycle Map aimed at encouraging people to `Ride Your City ‘. It is available in print from many of the cycle shops or contact http://capetownbicyclemap.co.za/contact/
Tel: (021) 701 7150 firstname.lastname@example.org to order your copy.
Whether you are a spectator or a cyclist, enjoy the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour on Sunday and I hope you will be inspired. Think about it. You don’t have to be a Cycle Tour cyclist to enjoy cycling around Cape Town. What about cycling to school, cycling to work, the trainstation or cycling to the shops!!!