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Posted on: Monday, 20 December 2010

Bicycle Enthusiasts, the second chapter

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Riding bicycles to commute and for pleasure is gaining popularity in South Africa and we previously asked local bicycle enthusiasts to tell us a little more about their bicycles and their favourite routes to cycle in the country. You can see the previous article here or read on for more …

Our first Q&A is with MD and founder of BEN Bikes, the group helping to raise awareness about cycling in South Africa, who provide bicycles to impoverished communities and who offer Township Bicycle Tours to the public and 0ur second interview was with Casey Powell, a young Doctor based in Durban, who loves cycling so much that she started a bicycle tour company with her husband, ‘on the side.’

Lets meet the Cyclists …

Andrew M Wheeldon

Occupation: Managing Director and founder – Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) South Africa; bicyclist

AndrewWhen and where do you ride your bicycle most often?
To date I have logged 302,000 kms on all my bicycles. I commute, ride socially with my family, train for bike racing, and race bikes. I have done so since 1980. I ride my bike as often as I can, to as many places as I can, for as many reasons as I can think of. It connects me with the environment around me like no other form of mobility. Most of my cycling is in the southern suburbs – Rondebosch to Simonstown, the peninsula, but also out to areas like Stellenbosch, Kleinmond, the west coast, etc. I have also cycled in Australia, the Netherlands, France, the UK and Ireland, India, Brasil, Ecuador, Colombia, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and others. My bike is part of me, we are never separated for long.

What kind of bicycle is it?
I have 18 bikes at present – my collection started in 1980. I still have my 1980 Peugeot, a racing bike that is now a 42 speed commuter. I have 9 racing bikes, 4 commuting bikes, 2 mountainbikes, one tandem, one recumbent and one vintage 1880 replica Dursley Pedersen bike.

What do you like about having a bicycle?
Everything. It gives me health, freedom, independence, and a sense of connection to this precious wonderful world in which we live. There is no other form of transport or mobility that comes close. The look on the faces of others, when I see them cycling. As a way of connecting with my wife and my two daughters: cycling with them and witnessing them share in my love of this amazing invention and the benefits it brings to them.

How could SA improve things for bicycle riders and commuters?
Education campaigns on safety, promotion of the bike, and routes to use, at schools, in the workplace, when applying for a learners license. All road users need to be cyclists first, and educated ones. Build bike lanes – well thought out, designed by cyclists themselves. Remove car parking bays in cities, and build bike parking. Take 50% of the budget for cars and roads and give this to bikes planning. Incentivise companies to promote bike use by their employees.

Your favourite place to ride bikes?
Through parks and on the coast and in the country, where there are few or no motorised vehicles of any kind. In many countries of the world. Up hills, to test my fitness, and down the other side to feel the wind in my face, and the speed of the bike. In the light rain, to cool me. In the warmth of the early morning sun. In places where I can see other people cycling and walking and having fun. On the mountain, off road, high up above cities where cars cannot reach and where I can look down upon the splendour of the surrounding area, and be left alone to my own thoughts, effort and freedom – that only a bike can bring to me.

Casey Powell

Occupation: medical doctor

CaseyWhen and where do you ride your bicycle most often?
As often as hiring allows. We (Street Scene Tours) bought a fleet of slick simple giant cruisers, and are in partnership with bike and saddle in Durban – creating unique and sleek bicycle outings. We have recently launched our Girls Bike Out tours. I ride up and down our sublime Durban beachfront promenade.

What kind of bicycle is it?
Giant, Simple cruisers.

What do you like about having a bicycle?
The freedom of pedal power. Seeing a different side to an emerging promenade culture here in Durban. The raddest form of transport. Being part of a happening global bicycle culture and lifestyle.

How could SA improve things for bicycle riders and commuters?
Wow, Durban is lagging behind on the bicycle friendliness. The promenade is safe, easy to ride on and well maintained. Once one ventures further into the suburbs, things get a little tricky for a 1-speed like myself. It would help greatly to have dedicated bicycle lanes, although pavements with good ‘off and on’ ramps would be favorable too.

Your favourite place to ride bikes?
Anywhere, everywhere. With good company, and a salty sea breeze.


Useful South African Travel Links:
Things to Do in South Africa
Outdoor Activities in South Africa
Cycling in South Africa
South Africa Accomodation

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1 comment about Bicycle Enthusiasts, the second chapter
  1. December 20th, 2010 at 11:02
    Ian says:

    Cape Town bicycle enthusiasts: join us for Critical Mass on the last Friday morning of every month! More info at fixedgearcapetown.co.za