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Tiny urban traces

Jul 18 2012 07:32
Adriaan Bester

IT WAS on a Tuesday afternoon, waiting for my turn at the Engen station in Sea Point, when the idea resurfaced.

At more or less the same speed that a lit cigarette butt dropped from the SUV in front of me, I articulated my brain spark in short breaths: Get. Me. Out. Of. Here.

It was summer, and we were trapped in tiny capsules some innocent inches above a petrol tank that, at least in my imagination, could mushroom us over Lion's Head at any moment.

The grip of the consumer trap I urged to break free from was as strong as the hand on my gear stick that reversed me out of near disaster, heading for a scratch pad to plan my alternatives, now unfolding in a clear, yet racing mind.

I started my rudimentary calculations: R1 000 per month for parking at the office; R600 in the tank every second week; R10 an hour for kerb parking in the CBD.

It catapulted when I added the unused capital investment of a cobweb-covered bicycle, patiently parked in a dark spot of my garage.

Sweating (on) the asset became a lot more appealing. 

And so my first tentative cycle commutes started, wobbling me up and down the hills of Cape Town. To get me going, I rewarded myself with a sweet incentive of exploring new coffee spots on the commute to calm my pacing heart from said hills and honking motorists.

Miraculously the momentum gained as my extra weight buckled under the pressure. The race against the trap I was in became a silent mission.

I recognised the glint of a shared goal in the eyes of fellow cyclists on my commute, even pedestrians. I felt less lonely as I pictured the journey we are all taking, by choice or necessity, all finding our paths to daily life in ways unaccustomed to me prior to my mission.

Lessons learnt from years in team buildings, performance management manoeuvring and other corporate memories captured on flipcharts became helpful as I faced the perils of pedalling: perfectly paved cycle lanes that abruptly end into a steep step; the approaching crowd alighting from a busy train station in what appears to be a cycle lane to me; pie-eating pedestrians that twirl in my slipstream as they crisscross unaware of the dangers of my unsure balance, doubtful of my intentions.

They became the W's and T's of my SWOT, with my spirit to arrive in one piece at my office in Woodstock the Opportunity, and my glowing thighs the obvious Strength.

Soon the journey shifted from the new affection I developed for my moderately performing bicycle to finding a list of alternative modes of transport, ranging in degrees of importance in low carbon emissions, cost saving and social inclusion.

I used the new public transport offering (MyCitiBus) more frequently, albeit it with partial success whiles the phases are slowly being rolled out.

I took to the train. Nervously at first. And then with rising abundance as I discovered my rhythm.

I discovered parts of my beloved Cape Town that, until then, cuddled curiously away from my attention as I previously only zoomed past it in careless oblivion.

Exploring beyond the cycle lanes paid off this week as an unreasonable cold front kept me off the two-wheeler, but safely (and somewhat warmly) tucked on my newfound transport alternatives.

With my mind shifted, it is hard to reverse back into a zone that now feels so far removed from the lifestyle I attach myself to.

 - Fin24

Since discovering the freedom of the cycle lanes, Adriaan also gears around in the supertubes of Twitter as @aiBester where, among other things, he co-ponders about the @futurecapetown.

cape town  |  transport



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