Helen Parry, Sea Point
Lila Komnick from Oranjezicht cannot understand why the mix of pedestrians and bicycles/scooters on the Sea Point promenade is a problem (“Lisbon lanes an option?” Atlantic Sun letters, October 20).
I live in Sea Point and walk on the promenade – with great care – daily. Perhaps I can explain.
1. The first picture she shows has a bus lane next to a single direction cycle-lane. No pedestrians near.
2. The second picture shows a single cyclist going down the middle of two lanes, presumably both devoted to cyclists. Again, no pedestrians.
2. The walkers at Sea Point include – the fast athletic, the slow elderly, medium-speed people with loose children and/or dogs, people with attached children and/or dogs, the disabled with zimmers etc, those with pushchairs or wheelchairs, those pushing an ice-cream cart. Others are not paying attention, making phone calls, or with their ears covered. Others again live permanently on the promenade surrounded by their possessions.
3. The self-powered use bicycles, roller-skates, skate boards.
4. The motorised used electric cycles, monocycles, electric skateboards etc. Some ride in groups. Some race. Most are absolutely silent in their approach. Some realise they need protection so wear it – helmets, knee guards etc. There is no regulation about maximum speed (some can do 65kph, far faster than is allowed on the road to authorised vehicles with insurance and licences). There is no training offered or indication on the vehicle of how fast it is going.
5. Not only are all groups going both ways simultaneously but sometimes they must intersect blindly (near the pavilion and at Three Anchor Bay) and there is no room at all for separate lanes.
6. Walkers want to look at the sea. As well as two-way traffic, there is sideways traffic of people chasing balls, pursuing children or dogs, admiring the bird photos, moving from beach lawns and back.
7. Lila Komnick says the space on the promenade is wide enough. Even if it were demarcated and then policed, there is not – two lanes for walkers and two for slow vehicles and two for fast ones is a safer minimum. The chances of people sticking rigidly to their lanes is nil.
8. I have seen accidents, had countless near-misses and know plenty of people who no longer risk the promenade at all. There are large retirement homes along the front. Many residents used to be brought to enjoy the air – not any more.
9. The problem has greatly spread around Sea Point. So many shops and hotels rent out bicycles/scooters which are very profitable. Those who hire them just want to get onto the promenade by the quickest route. They ignore traffic lights, one-way-systems and anything which gets in their way. So pedestrians must not just look out for where vehicles should be coming from but where they definitely should not. Now add on the many delivery motorbikes acting similarly.
10. I have never been to Lisbon but I have been to Japan and Korea where pedestrians and bicycles etc mix. Their skill in avoidance at speed and in crowds is incredible but unlikely to be duplicated here. Besides, these are experienced riders on their own machines. It is still not a pleasant, relaxing, holiday experience.
11. If the lady would like to visit Sea Point, I would happily show her that I am not exaggerating the dangers.