Infrastructure development plays an important role in our fight for a ZERO carbon footprint by 2050. Copenhagen, even while being a strong cycling city to begin with, has continued their climb to being the cycling city.

Copenhagen has had continued investment into its cycling infrastructure over the past decade which has increased its cycling commutes from 35% of all commutes to 49%. This is a considerable increase in just ten years. Copenhagen is setting the pace with regards to integration of bicycle infrastructure and adoption. Sadly, the same cannot be said about Cape Town with bicycle journeys sitting at 1.4% of all journeys.

So, what are the drivers to replicate Copenhagen’s success?

  • The first driver is a vision and set of climate change goals that are set out by government.
  • A detailed outline of how to achieve climate change goals and timelines. These need to be communicated to all levels of society to generate awareness and buy-in by all sector stakeholders:
    • National and local government – governments are where the hype starts and where big decisions are made regarding the implementation of eco-solutions.
    • Municipalities – municipalities can hold governments accountable to their carbon footprint strategies and they can generate considerable buy-in from the public.
    • Town planners – this is a vital area of people to get involved so that future plans are intentional and well thought out, minimising errors and maximising usability.
    • Communities – this is where the most considerable amount of buy-in is generated and maintained.
    • Law enforcement – cyclists need to be protected on the road against negligent drivers and criminal activity. Law enforcement has a crucial role to play to ensure that cycling remains a sustainable form of transport.
    • Individuals – ultimately, the buck stops at the individuals making use of the cycling tracks. It is still their responsibility to help in getting the goals and strategies filtering through the aforementioned levels.

The City of Cape Town has already implemented multiple cycling lanes and routes within the peninsula, but it is nowhere near enough to encourage cyclists to commute to work, as these still cover a considerably small area and distance.

With sufficient support from individuals and communities to motivate action from governments and municipalities, we can not only increase our cyclist commutes but also our product offerings locally in the pursuit of cycling infrastructure. Governments can empower both the economy and the environment by using local supplier development for bicycle sales, service, and support as well as infrastructure such as parking garages, etc. This will also allow for easier efforts to maintaining the infrastructure.

The advantages of an improved attitude towards cycling doesn’t just stop at a slightly healthier lifestyle for some, but rather continues into a snowball effect on improving our carbon footprint and our economy.