Dushanka Aldera, Plattekloof
I am writing in response to “Electric vehicles a danger on promenade” (Off My Trolley, May 1) regarding the continued danger to pedestrians of irresponsible users of wheels on the Sea Point Promenade and the lack of action taken by the City of Cape Town to amend and enforce its by-laws.
I am a 57-year-old woman who walked along the promenade regularly for recrea-tional purposes until I was knocked down head-on by a young unsupervised boy of about 12 or 13 who was cycling on his private bicycle without any protective gear in November 2017.
I sustained severe injuries – a broken wrist, a shin wound resulting in cellulitis causing untold grief and two extended stays in hospital, a skin graft and countless visits to the wound clinic for almost an entire year.
The pain I had to endure for the greatest part of 2018 was unbearable.
To add insult to injury I, to date, haven’t gotten any empathy nor compensation from the boy’s father despite his word of “how can I help” upon our first telephonic communication when we first made contact three days after the incident.
I then made contact with the then Sea Point ward councillor, Shayne Ramsey, early in December 2017, to inform her what had happened and to highlight my concerns about the outdated signage and the serious threat the undisciplined cyclists and in fact all users of wheels, other than people pushing prams, pose to pedestrians.
She responded stating that she was sorry to hear this and given the number of people using the promenade there were in fact very few such incidents, intimating that I am purely an accident statistic – so much for the caring City.
She also stated that she would escalate the issue of the outdated signage, which incidentally clearly forbids cyclists to use the promenade, to (former) councillor Brett Heron.
Subsequently, in April 2018, I received an email from her informing that the budget for new signs had been approved and these would appear in the upcoming financial year.
I walked along the promenade as recently as Saturday May 4, and alas, no new signs have been erected and the outdated ones are still in their original places.
There were also a number of groups of cyclists on the Orange Bikes driving abreast the width of the walking space, not looking ahead and chatting to one another, resulting in the pedestrians having to be very vigilant and each time give way to them.
This leaves me thinking that their right to be there and behave in that reckless and selfish manner is more important than my non-threatening right to enjoy a safe stroll.
There were also persons on electric scooters with earphones plugged into their ears, zigzagging at tremendous speed (at least 40 km/* ) to whom we also had to give way. Needless to say, the whole experience was anything but a pleasant and relaxing one.
I may be one of a few multiple promenade users who got injured, through no fault of my own, and despite the ordeal I endured have survived to share my story, but what more needs to happen before the City of Cape Town enforces laws that protect its citizens and visitors alike.
Helen Parry, Sea Point
Thank you for publishing your very fair article on electric vehicles on the seafront. I am only sorry that you received so much flak.
As for Mr Lazarus on his unicycle, the lawns are more at risk from him than I am. Nor is there any question of forcing him onto the road. I doubt it would be considered a legally roadworthy vehicle.
Walking along the promenade today, it is hard to remember how dangerous it was in January and February.
Then, I walked only feet from a young woman who was knocked over. Not by a surprise vehicle from behind but from one which approached us all head-on, could not stop and careened into her.
Luckily, she seemed unhurt.
Another day, a bike brushed me so closely from behind that the hairs on the rider’s arms rubbed my bare arm. On another occasion, an out-of-control bike hit a legally parked van, causing damage. The rider put on a brave fac,e but it was clear he was in some pain.
Most people enjoy the festive atmosphere where walkers, joggers, tricycles, toddlers, pram-pushers, dog walkers, skateboarders, roller-skaters and conventional bicycles intermingle. If you add electric bikes, electric scooters, electric skateboards and Segways, some capable of 45km/* and incredible acceleration, many with first-time helmetless riders, it is certain to lead to accidents, injuries and deaths.
Some bikes weigh 30 kg and can carry 120 more, which at speed is quite a missile.
I expect the City has not declared any speed limits because it never occurred to it any would be necessary.
Thank you to Dr Dalvie for his support. Like him, I have long learnt not to make any sudden step or even to raise an arm, while stopping to turn around and check can be equally risky.
I enjoy reading your articles and only hope action is taken before next holiday season.
The EU has limited electric bikes to 25km/* but these are pedal-assisted; when the rider stops pedalling the power is cut off, unlike those rented out here which just continue on.
The UK now imposes minimum age of 14. (ref. wikipedia)