This Saturday Cape Town is to announce its inaugural Bicycle Mayor! 34 year old, commuter cyclist, Lebogang Mokwena is already a change maker in the cycle advocacy space. Learning to ride as an adult Lebogang went on to volunteer for Bike New York on their adult bicycling learning programme. In 2016 she brought this knowledge back to South Africa and has since been teaching Capetonians, mainly women, how to ride bicycles through her Learn to Cycle programme.
Now through her new role as Bicycle Mayor Lebogang hopes to make commuter cycling more accessible and inclusive, with a special focus on getting more women of colour on bicycles for both recreational and utility cycling. To achieve this Lebogang plans to expand her weekly Learn2Cycle classes from Mowbray to Thembelihle High School in Khayelitsha. In addition she hopes to run periodic classes at clinics as a way of introducing cycling to people suffering from lifestyle diseases like High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol, the successful treatment of which also requires physical exercise.
With a strong grassroots focus, Lebogang is passionate about giving those with a desire to learn to cycle the opportunity to do so in a structured and safe environment. She sees her behavioral change initiative as complementing the work already being done on infrastructure and town planning. By getting more people onto bikes she hopes to mitigate against the ‘white elephant’ problem of installed but un- or under-utilised cycling infrastructure.
“My hope is that cycling in Cape Town will become more inclusive and that we will at some point be just as likely to see a mother in the Cape Flats on a bicycle with her children when they go to Church or Mosque as we are to see lycra-clad Cape Town Cycle Tour enthusiasts cranking their way up Suikerbossie. When more adults from all backgrounds see the bicycle less as a children’s toy but as a mobility technology that is beneficial to them, the process of transforming hearts and minds about cycling in our city and who participates in it, will have begun in earnest. I hope my time as Bicycle Mayor will contribute to this change. “
Lebogang’s vision for cycling in Cape Town, resonates well with the core aims of The Bicycle Mayor Program. This global initiative by Dutch social enterprise‚ BYCS‚ aims to accelerate the progress of cycling in cities with the goal to see half of all city trips by bicycle by 2030!
While in Cape Town the program is being implemented with the assistance of The Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Pedal Power Association, Lebogang sees the value of the The Bicycle Mayor Program in showcasing the variety of cycling initiatives that are taking place in the city – fueling collaboration and dialogue between various cycling advocacy groups. In addition the program aims to broaden the global conversation on cycling futures and best practice.
“Through the global network of Bicycle Mayors, we in Cape Town have an opportunity to share with and learn from countries with similar socio-economic and development challenges (i.e. Brazil, Mexico, India, Lebanon) while also tapping into the experience of higher-income countries with an established commuter cycling culture like the Netherlands”.
Follow Lebogang on Twitter @BicycleMayorCT
You can sign up for upcoming Learn2Cycle lessons here.
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