The bustling metropolis of Joburg, or Jozi offers visitors an experience as unique and diverse as the city itself – from the vibrant streets of Soweto to quiet, tree-lined suburbs and Sandton’s upmarket business district with its segregated cycle lanes.
JOBURG CYCLE MAP
Getting around Jozi by bike has been made easy thanx to the folks at JUCA (The Joburg Urban Cyclists Association) who have created a wonderful map to help you work out the safer, least hilly, and least traffic-heavy cycling routes through the city. The map also shows current cycle infrastructure and includes key public transport nodes (such as train stations). The map is distributed for free at tourism agencies, cycling shops, universities, public offices. You can also request copies of the map by contacting JUCA.
Although the hilly terrain of the city can be challenging, and issues like traffic congestion and poor road etiquette abound, Jozi is actually a very cycleable city, especially for shorter commutes. The trick is to plan your route so that you stay off busy congested arterial roads wherever possible (e.g. Jan Smuts, William Nichol, Oxford Road). Use back roads through the suburbs. They are quieter, safer and even pleasant (birds chirping, trees and shade etc). Visit JUCA’s website for more tips on cycling in Johannesburg or read our guide on How to Bike in the City.
BIKES AND CITY TRANSIT
For cyclists looking to combine bikes with trains and buses, there are unfortunately not many options currently available in Joburg. While Metro rail should allow bicycles, to be carried goods, it is best to check at you local station before attempting to use the service. Bicycles are permitted on the Gautrain but current regulations require cyclists to contain their bicycles inside a travel bag. The Gautrain System has bicycle racks at each station (except at OR Tambo International Airport) where you can secure your bicycle and board the train. Unfortunately bikes are not currently allowed on Joburg Metro and Rea Vaya buses.
JOZI’S BICYCLE CULTURE
In Joburg, people cycle for many reasons. While sports cycling dominates the cycling scene, things are starting to shift with utility cycling and commuter culture seeing groundswell of interest over the past few years.
Various commuter groups and social cycling clubs have sprung up around the city. For those, like members of the Diepsloot Cycle Group (DCG), who can’t afford public transport, their bicycles are their only means of transport. With over 100 members, they cycle to work every day, co-ordinating their journeys via SMS/ WhatsApp and keeping each other safe on the road. Just South of the city, in the township of Soweto, a group of entrepreneurs behind the custom fixie-building business FixinDiaries are making cycling cool for young, black people, and encouraging more women to start cycling. They organise various women’s rides and other events to grow the cycling culture in their neighbourhood. And they are not alone, Joburg has an active social cycling scene with local cycling clubs and events peppering the calendar – from Critical Mass, a night-time group ride that swarms through the city on the last Friday of every month, to the annual Freedom Ride – Jozi’s largest social ride, with over 5000 participants, cycling to honor of Nelson Mandela and unite communities across the city.
Supporting Joburg’s urban cycling culture is local advocacy organisation Johannesburg Urban Cyclists Association (JUCA). Formed in 2012, to give a voice to city cyclists, JUCA works to promotes and defend the use of the bicycle as a day-to-day transport solution and make Joburg more be bike-friendly. With the City of Johannesburg committed to investing in cycling infrastructure, cycling in Joburg is set to get even easier.
TOURS AND BIKE RENTALS
The best way to experience Joburg’s urban culture is on a bicycle, as you can easily move between the various neighborhoods and stop off to explore new sights and interact with local people. For visitors to the city, there are various tour operators offering cycle tours of Jozi’s inner city (Maboneng Precinct) and Soweto and Alexandra Townships. Tours explore everything from the architecture, graffiti and street art to food and history. Over the past few years parts of Joburg’s inner city have been completely transformed with the area close to City Hall and Newtown Cultural Precinct, forming the heart of Jozi’s urban revival. Areas like Braamfontein and Maboneng Precinct are bursting with trendy shops, galleries and restaurants, all thanks to young creatives who’ve spurred urban renewal efforts. Here you will find bike shops, bike friendly cafes and rentals businesses peppering the district. The area is also home to a unique collection of graffiti and street art by local and international artists.
FIND PLACES TO STAY, EAT, DRINK & RIDE
Explore our directory of all things bicycle in Joburg and surrounds. We’re constantly adding to our list of favorite bike shops, bicycle friendly coffee shops, restaurants, microbreweries, wineries, attractions and places to stay! Bike friendly venues may offer facilities for bike storage, parking or washing. There are even businesses who offer complimentary bikes or bike rentals and/or are located in a bikeable neighborhoods or mountain biking areas.
For outdoor adventurers and mountain bikers, there are numerous nature reserves, mountain bike trails and bike parks just on your doorstep, and you’re extremely well placed for adventures a little further afield, like the Kruger National Park and the game parks of the Lowveld.
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