BCC to revive cycling culture

Stock photo of bicycles

The BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has announced plans to resurrect its long-forgotten cycling culture to decongest the Central Business District (CBD).

This is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa’s Development Agenda, National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), Smart Cities and Bulawayo Corporate Strategy.

The city has already developed a smart car park which should decongest the CBD.

The smart parking initiative, however, has resulted in battles between motorists and BCC over high fees.

BCC Economic Development Officer Kholisani Moyo said Southern Eye that the initiative stemmed from discussions at the April Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) which was themed Rethink, reimagine, reinvent; Value chains for economic developmentt.

He said cycling was one of the value chains exhibited at ZITF as Bulawayo’s scenario for smart cities.

“Historically, Bulawayo was a bike-friendly city and employees of most large companies used bikes as a cheaper means of transport to get to work. The city had big companies that made bikes and parts, and it employed a huge number of people,” Moyo said.

“In addition, there were vibrant cycling clubs competing internationally, and goods were delivered around town by bicycle messengers, which reduced congestion in the CBD. However, the cycling culture died out and the city switched to an expensive mode of transport. It is in this context that the city is reintroducing the culture of cycling to revive the industry in line with the SDGs, the Africa Development Agenda, NDS 1 and the city’s corporate strategy.

Some of the benefits of a cycling culture are low cost transportation, health benefits, reduced carbon emissions in the city, and decongestion.

“Cycling provides affordable, independent travel for those who would otherwise have restricted travel options. For many years, bicycles have provided increased mobility to many groups such as low-income people, students, the unemployed, and people with disabilities who use wheelchairs as modes of transportation,” Moyo noted.

He said the demand for bicycles would create the need to manufacture them, resulting in SDG 8-compliant jobs.

“In developed countries where the cycling culture is encouraged, such as the Netherlands and Switzerland, life expectancy is very high. This is in line with SDG 3. Students should use bicycles to get to school, colleges and universities to reduce congestion and damage to roads,” he stressed, while indicating that CBD congestion was costing the city millions a year.

“Cycling is one of the sustainable transport solutions, unlike other modes of transport. Bicycles do not emit dangerous gases that pollute the atmosphere. This mode of transport is environmentally friendly and can help the city achieve a green economy, in line with SDG 13 on climate action,” he added.

The city is looking to achieve smart city status by 2024 after a learning visit to the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, which introduced the smart city program.

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