A VISIT FROM A SPANISH BICYCLE ACTIVIST

What is it like to be a cycle tourist in Cape Town? Madrid based, bicycle activist Isabel Ramis share’s her experience of discovering Cape Town’s bicycle culture.

MOVE BY BIKE

Isabel Ramis runs Muevete en bici por Madrid, a bicycle advocacy group in Madrid, Spain, where she works to grow bicycling in her city. Like Cape Town, Madrid has seen a recent surge in the number of urban cyclists, fueled by improving cycle infrastructure and the work of community initiatives like Muevete en bici. At home Isabel uses her bicycle as her primary means of transport. For her,

Cycling is the best solution to go from A to B, it keeps you fit, it’s economical and respectful with the environment… it helps us to live happier lives – we know how long our journeys are, and that we reached them by ourselves, it connects us to the people around us.

It is this ability of the bicycle to connect people that has enriched Isa’s life both at home and on her travels – inspiring her to visit bicycle cities around the world.

PERCEPTIONS, REALITY & DREAMS

Arriving in Cape Town, Isa was originally apprehensive about cycling in a city she did not know. She was also worried about issues of safety and crime but wanted to challenge these perceptions and discover for herself what cycling in CPT was really like. When we offered to take her on a ride around the city, she jumped at the chance to experience Cape Town’s bicycle culture first hand.

There is no better introduction to cycling in Cape Town than one of the City’s cycle network success stories – the cycleway that follows the Sea Point Promenade along the Atlantic Seaboard and back through Greenpoint along the fan mile. Cycling along this route has to be one of my favorite things to do in the city.

We started our ride at the VnA Waterfront where we picked up a few Dutch style bikes from the Up Cycles rental station, conveniently located in the heart of the city’s tourism hub. From there we took a leisurely ride along the Seapoint Promenade stopping off to explore the Prom’s public art installations and the fynbos wonderland of Greenpoint Park. One of the best things about cycling in Cape Town is that you are continuously surrounded by the mesmerizing wide vistas of city, sea and mountains.

The second best thing about cycling around Cape Town is that the city is peppered with great cafes – many of them bike friendly, ensuring that every ride has a mandatory coffee pitstop! That day we ended our ride at Moulle Point’s, bike friendly Café Neo where we shared a coffee and our dreams for the future of bicycle cities.

As our visitors discovered, once you start pedaling around Cape Town, you just can’t stop! That night Isa and her friends took to the city’s streets with over 2000 cyclists for the monthly #moonlightmass social ride – an experience that was one of the highlights of her visit.

On her return Isa wrote to us that:

Cycling in Cape Town was one of the best things we could have done! Visiting any city is much better this way: you get to know the place not just by watching, but also listening, smelling and feeling too.
We were very lucky with the weather and the company, we felt safe all the time. CPT has so many things to offer to the foreigner and to the cyclist, that cycling should be a ‘must’ if you come here!

Photograph © Jason Buch

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Director & Founder of BICYCLE SOUTH
Cape Town based designer & bicycle activist, Leonie is passionate about sustainability and green living. When she is not busy advocating for bicycle cities or blogging on Cape Town’s bicycle culture, you’ll find her adventuring beyond the city limits on her steel frame touring bike.
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Director & Founder of BICYCLE SOUTH
Cape Town based designer & bicycle activist, Leonie is passionate about sustainability and green living. When she is not busy advocating for bicycle cities or blogging on Cape Town’s bicycle culture, you’ll find her adventuring beyond the city limits on her steel frame touring bike.

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