The Feasibility of Bicycling in Moving Away from the Automobile-Centric City: The Case of Johannesburg

Lekgothoane, Dineo
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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
“In the 20th century, as motorization progressed, cities poured most of their investment into roads, to accommodate motorized traffic” (Godefrooijet al, 2009, p7). Automobile dependence has risen since then; contributing to problems associated with declining city centres, increases in air pollution, traffic noise and road accidents (Greene and Wegener, 1997). Urban planners and city managers, together with politicians, are now faced with the task of reconstructing South African cities that carry the legacy of apartheid urban planning and development (Donaldson, 2001). These cities remain fragmented, and hence they continue to support a huge reliance on private car ownership. The research deems automobile dependence as being highly unsustainable, and hence the study begins to seek alternatives. The bicycle therefore gains recognition as one of the most sustainable modes of travel. This paper seeks to delve into the feasibility of instigating a bicycling initiative in an automobile-centric city of Johannesburg. That is, while the bicycle is widely accepted as a crucial part of any urban transport strategy (GPSM, 2015), it lies within the interests of this research to weigh the pros and cons of successfully converting Johannesburg into a bicycle-friendly city. Since the notion of sustainability forms the core of transportation policy, practice and implementation (Kamau, 2007), the study locates bicycling in the broader literature of sustainability and sustainable development. Part of the findings of the research incorporates the idea that for a bicycling initiative to be feasible in an urban setting a) there has to be a society-wide support (Wittink, 2009), and b) it must be integrated with public transport so as to allow bicyclists to have seamless journeys.
Planning Honours Report 2015, Wits University
automobile dependence, fragmented city, sustainable, Johannesburg, transportation
Lekgothoane, D (2015). The Feasibility of Bicycling in Moving Away from the Automobile-Centric City: The Case of Johannesburg , Johannesburg