In September, 17 people took part in an exciting journey. These participants all benefited from the opportunity to save time, save money and reduce their carbon emissions on the road. Their experiences in the #Bike2Train Challenge are a testament to how switching to cycling can contribute towards creating a more liveable city.
The #Bike2Train Challenge is an Open Streets Cape Town campaign in collaboration with the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. It enjoys the support of the Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) and the Pedal Power Association (PPA).
The challenge encouraged people to shift to cycling to get to the station. We offered train users the opportunity to buy a bicycle worth R2 000 for the discounted price of R699. This price was further reduced if they cycled over a six-week period. The more they cycled to the station, the more cash they received back.
Participants came from the neighbourhoods surrounding Fish Hoek Station: Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Sun Valley. Some journeys to the station were longer than others. Ocean View is 11km away and Masiphumelele is 6km. This was quite a commitment to make, especially as all participants used to take the taxi to the station, which is a convenient mode of transport. But everyone persisted, even those who only learned to ride a bicycle two weeks before the challenge started.
Tebello Lehoko met us at Fish Hoek station during our recruitment phase. She was keen to buy a bicycle but didn't yet know how to ride one. We connected her with Lebogang Mokwena, who leads the #learn2cycle initiative and teaches adults how to cycle on Saturdays at the Pedal Power Association office in Mowbray. Lebogang found Tebello to be “an amazing student with a near-natural affinity to the bicycle”.
Tebello came to collect her bicycle for the challenge and got on hesitantly, as she had yet to cycle outside of her lessons. After a short ride around Fish Hoek with campaign manager Catherine Cartwright, she was off to Masiphumelele on her own. Tebello now cycles to the station, and sometimes straight to her college in Muizenberg.
Tebello’s story is one of many that have reminded us why we, at Open Streets, strive to encourage people to embrace their streets and use modes of transport that benefit themselves and their communities. All participants saved time (one participant shaved 16 minutes off his daily commute) and money (up to R480 per month by those no longer using taxis).
But what is more important is that they changed their transport mode and they are now in a position to encourage those around them to do the same.
On Sunday 5 November, we hosted a Learn2Cycle day in Masiphumelele and all the new students were friends and family of #Bike2Train participants. By encouraging this small group of people to cycle we have already seen how they have in turn inspired those around them to rethink how they travel from A to B.