Hi All

My late father was captain of his local Deeside Cycling club in Aberdeen way back in the late 1940s so we spent many a Saturday morning sitting beside him as he tried to explain to us four youngsters, the best way to fix a cycle chain or repair a puncture. 

When we first moved back to Bulawayo, at the end of grade 2, I was given my first bike – a 20-inch red Raleigh which was subsequently upgraded to a 24-inch as I became more and more lanky. We were always a one-car family so cycling to and from school was the only option. Being naturally naughty and inquisitive youngsters, with no adult supervision, we soon learnt all the tricks from sitting on the handlebars and riding backwards to riding one bike whilst holding another on the side. My baby brother would often be brought along sitting on the crossbar. The beauty of cycling in those days was the fact that every main road in the suburbs was built alongside a tarred cycle track complete with all the regulation road traffic signs. Just imagine if we could resuscitate this practice and find ways of blocking Kombis from driving along them.

One fine Saturday morning, in May this year, I joined about 150 other cyclists to ride into town from Migym in Borrowdale for the inaugural running of an extremely well-organised Harare Cycle Day. There was all manner of participants, riding in an orderly fashion, obeying all the standards protocols of cycling – quite a few of the parents were pedalling alongside their children with some as young as seven joining in.

The route took us via Sam Levy’s Village, Arundel and Avondale shopping centres finishing outside Town Hall in the city centre where we were met by the Honourable Mayor of Harare, Councillor Jacob Mafume. Cycling is a way of life in the Netherlands and is very popular in Germany, so these 2 embassies generously contributed to the hosting of the day. Good to see quite a few of the ambassadors unassumingly pedalling alongside us. The Ambassador of Germany then sat alongside the Mayor in an old-fashioned Rickshaw bike to be ridden around the city centre with all of us in tow. 

Events like this do not happen without the driving force and passion of people like Jenna Hutchings dedicated to improving the way of life for others in their communities. I have had several chats in the past with other similar-minded locals about making Harare into something of a Cycle Destination with certain roads being completely car-free. In his speech to all of us at Town Hall, the Mayor told us that he has instructed his fellow councillors to ensure that there are cycle paths included in the town planning of all future suburbs in Harare.

The Dutch Ambassador also spoke to the crowd relating how some 70% of people in her country own, and regularly ride, bikes around their places of residence. 

Surely, it’s time for us all to start imagining a future city with far less cars driving dangerously along crowded roads and to replace them with bikes and buses. 

Food for thought? MikeG.

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