The death of Burry Stander has highlighted the need for more awareness and better safety for cyclists. There are calls for a 1.5m campaign, changes to road design and various other actions to improve the safety for cyclists and pedestrians on our roads. I am normally a very positive person and as a cyclist, motorist and runner I am very aware of how dangerous our roads are. I totally agree that campaigns are important and that they might and hopefully do bring awareness to the plight of cyclists and pedestrians but I am afraid to say I don’t think they will help.
The problem in South Africa (and possibly in other places around the world) is bigger than a lack of awareness regarding cyclists or pedestrians or even motorcyclists. I am afraid that South African’s have absolutely no respect or regard for human life, our own or each other’s. Can you honestly tell me that in a country where parents don’t even have enough regard for their own children’s lives they actually care about a random stranger on a bicycle? Look around you next time you are in traffic – is the child in the car next to you strapped in? Probably not! Is your child? Are you?
Look around you. Look at that bus or taxi driver. He has one job – to get his passengers to their destination safely. Is that top of his mind? Nope, probably not, getting the next fare is. Look at him speeding, weaving in between cars, overloading, look at that un-roadworthy vehicle. If he or his boss actually cared about the lives of the passengers would he be doing any of that? Nope. He has a lot of lives to take care off and has no regard for any of them, not even his own. Why would he care about the life of one little cyclist.
Look at your own speedometer? Think about every time you answer the phone, text somebody, adjust your GPS or take a photo of that idiot in the car next to you, put on your make-up, shave, read a newspaper (yes, I have seen that) all while driving. Do you care about your own life? Do you care enough about your kids in the backseat? Or is that call or getting to your destination on time more important to you? Think about it.
Look at yourself, look at your friends you were out with. Think about those glasses of wine/beer whisky you had before getting into your car. What? You were fine to drive… Really? What was more important, the R100, R200 or even R300 or so Rand you saved on a taxi or the lives you could have taken. Think about the following morning? Were you still over the limit when you drove to work? I was at a braai this weekend and everyone was laughing and joking that one of the guys had slept in his car the night before. Not too drunk to drive home… oh no, he made it to his driveway. He was just too drunk to walk the 10m from his car to his house. Every time something like this is laughed at or condoned it we are saying we approve. We are saying we have no respect for human life! South Africa, it is NOT a joke.
Cyclists, look at yourselves! Did you stop at that red light? Why not? Oh wait, it was so you did not need to unclip… right, because that is really difficult to do, takes forever to clip back in, it will interrupt your cycle and slow down your average speed. Get over it! Have respect for the rules of the road and each other.
Motorcyclists, look at yourselves!. Weaving in and out of traffic – pick a lane! Or is getting there quickly much more important that your own life?
Look at our crime rate, especially the violent crimes. People get killed for a cell phone or less… Can you tell me that those criminals value human life enough to actually worry about passing a cyclist with a distance of 1.5m?
Look at the rape stats in this country!!! Can you tell me that those rapists care enough about human life to consider the consequences of their actions in traffic? They don’t care about human life in general.
Look at the HIV infection rate! If people valued their own lives more this would not be so high.
Look at the death toll on our roads over the festive season! 1465 lives lost. That is 38 people PER DAY. Shocking South Africa, shocking! (STATS HERE) What are you personally doing about it? I read a very good article how we were each responsible for the death of Burry Stander (read it HERE) and we are!
In a country where life is so undervalued, where babies are disposable, where our own children and their futures and education are just tossed aside,where people are raped and killed every day why would the life of the cyclist be of any more value? We as a country need a drastic attitude change and soon! This is about more than just our cyclists, our pedestrians, our fellow road users. This is about our lives!