TO CONVINCE myself that I’m free of the dreaded modern Fear Of Missing Out
fever, I have been keeping a very close eye on the placement of my fuel tank’s
needle recently, using it to gauge this FOMO disease.
Staying put has been a good change of scenery; when
necessary and possible, I explored some form of alternative transport.
Today marks my 23rd consecutive day of avoiding a fill-up at
the fuel station. While my ageing, dirty little Swedish monster now sniffs fumes
to get up the hill on its near-empty tank, the milestone remains a worthy
celebration in my books.
Achieving this required a series of uphill cycles against
windy conditions, or brisk walks to the nearest MyCiTi bus station from my house,
about four kilometers away.
Or a combination of the two. And the occasional,
yet carefully negotiated ride in a friend’s car.
Most of all, it required resilience not to be everywhere,
all the time. And then counting the cost of getting there at the same time.
In a test of focus, I stared temptation in the eye on Sunday
for a trip to Grassy Park where the City of Cape Town launched its first
Open Streets initiative.
Aware of the grip of FOMO I reconsidered, and instead
followed the fun on Twitter through the eyes of other urban voyagers.
Promoted as an urban initiative to close off selected
streets on Sundays to cars and open them up to cyclists, pedestrians and their
dogs, I ticked many boxes of the target audience.
In fact, my dog #Ben got wing
of it too, and was already dusting off his walking shoes.
Ironically, the only way to get there involved burning the
last few drops in the tank, which I was hoping could last until the next,
inevitable petrol hike.
So with a brief note of envy, I shot off a tweet: “Would
have loved to take @MyCitiBus with my bike and #Ben to #openstreet in Grassy
Park. Fuel costs to get there outweighs the fun.”
It is still early days to expect public transport to connect
us to one another effortlessly, but strides are being made towards it.
What followed my tweet was a day at home, filled with
information and photos from faraway friends. And FOMO was smothered.
Of course, the search for coexistence of human species
moving from one place to another is as ongoing as the migration of buffalo
Consider the surprise recently when the usually
pedestrian-only promenade in Sea Point was opened to any form of non-motorised
transport, such as bicycles, skaters and pram-pushers during the city’s
celebration of Public Transport Month.
What appeared to be an innocent and peace-loving gesture to
rally locals towards finding alterative ways of getting around (let alone
living in harmony) was met with glares by hardened walkers, followed by
fingers pointing at fading "no-cycling" signage on the paving.
Is this a classical case of "One man’s search for
alternative ways of interacting with his surrounds becomes another man’s
struggle with those that disrupt his peaceful walk to the other side of the
Such is the challenge of modern city living: while I balance
my FOMO on the fumes of a shrinking petrol tank, encouraging efforts to open
streets for families and furry friends to find each other, another urbanite
fights to keep the picture unchanged, and suggests mothballing structures that
remind us of the efforts we have created to roll us forward.
The fine balance of urban pleasure seekers and those set in
traditional ways are now running in dual carriage, with fumes, spokes and
walking sticks flying in between. Bring on the alternative urban transport
*On Twitter, Adriaan cycles as the #LoneCyclist via @aiBester