Multimodal commuting in Johannesburg on the horizon


“I’d like you to consider that every time you see a cyclist on the road, they could in fact be in a car, and create a lot more traffic for motorists. People uptaking cycling is actually great for motorists,” Warren Grey, partner at Solid Green, told CNBC Africa.

Since the development of the rapid rail service in Johannesburg, also known as the Gautrain, plans to create more commuter-friendly options such as cycling and walking lanes have been a part of the city’s future development.

(READ MORE: Alternative public transport services a growing market in S.Africa)


Cycology, which rents out electrical bicycles for commuters and tourists, is one of the many developments centred on decreasing traffic congestion within the Sandton Central Business District (CBD) and promoting more environmentally-friendly travel options.

“Cycology was born from this understanding that it’s not actually about the bikes, but it’s about connecting people, places and passions. We saw an opportunity both in the marketplace and at the same time we felt that profit and purpose must meet,” said Vincent Truter, ‘cycologist’ at Cycology.

“The purpose here is how [to] create access to green mobility alternatives throughout South Africa. Sandton came up as the first target area, [with] 900,000 new square metres of development this year alone. Added to that, we have 100,000 more cars coming in before the end of the year, and we’re already totally congested.”

(READ MORE: Sandton traffic congestion to increase in 3 years)

According to the Tom Tom South African Congestion Index, Johannesburg is ranked first in South Africa in terms of traffic, with a 30 per cent congestion level.

This is followed by Cape Town with a 26 per cent congestion level, the East Rand at 25 per cent and Pretoria at 24 per cent. In addition, Johannesburg’s roads at morning peak hours are 79 per cent congested, and 66 per cent congested during evening peak hours.

The establishment of the Gautrain has however managed to slightly ease the congestion and has seen more pedestrians, but the Sandton CBD is still predominantly designed for the driver.

“The reality is that a lot of people already want to be able to engage in a pedestrianised lifestyle in Sandton or engage in cycling. South Africa has a very strong cycling culture. What you’ll see is if we engage in the correct kind of urban design, correct street design that enables people to have a bouquet of options as commuters – instead of completely relying on one technology – which is the internal combustion engine, it activates the transport hubs,” Grey explained.

“As soon as you have a correctly designed walking environment, people will be able to walk further and further.”

Truter added that modern commuting is also about multimodal transport, and allowing the commuter an array of choices, including their own car, to travel to their desired destination.

“We thought that what was really important in the mix here in Sandton is that we’ve got local government, the city improvement district and all the players really looking at infrastructure development,” said Truter.

“They’re considering non-motorised transport, which includes walking and cycling. It’s inevitability. Bicycle lanes are coming up throughout South Africa. Mayor Parks Tau, in his State of the City address, said ‘we will progressively make Johannesburg a cycling city,’”.