Sabrina is a researcher at the University of Stellenbosch, working for the Centre for Invasion Biology and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
1. Why do you commute to work by bike?
Cycling to work gives me an early-morning energy boost and makes me feel good. Cycling (almost) every day keeps me fit and motivated. On top of that, I don’t have to sit in traffic but can often pass long queues of standing cars, and don’t need to worry about parking. It also saves me some cash that I can spend on nice things rather than petrol. Here in Stellenbosch cycling to work is great because it hardly rains and does not get very cold.
2. How has cycling changed your life?
As long as I can remember, I walked and cycled to school and work. It has become sort of a lifestyle to brave the weather and get out on the bike, no matter how cold and miserable it is (and where I’m from, it snows sometimes and rains a lot). Cycling to work shows me that once you’re out there and move, you warm up quickly. And before you know it, you’re at work, nice and ready for the day.
3. How far do you ride every day?
My commute to work is about 4km each way. Sometimes I also cycle before or after work and often on the weekends, in the mountains or on the road.
4. Tell us more about your bike…
I bought my bike from a friend who “upgraded” to a better bike when I first moved to Stellenbosch 4 years ago. It is a blue GT Avalanche 1.0. This bike has been on many adventures with me and has never let me down. Amongst others it joined me on my first race ever, the Karoo to Coast in 2012.
5. Do you have any advice for people who would like to cycle to work?
I would encourage everyone to embrace the great weather in Stellenbosch and to get out there more. Cycling to work provides an optimal opportunity to stay fit and to breathe some fresh air, and it can save a lot of time spent sitting in traffic. I think the more people join me on the roads for their commutes to work, the more accepted cycling will become in Stellenbosch, and the safer it will be. That being said, I also recommend cyclists to always think for more than just themselves. Some drivers are not very savvy when it comes to cyclists, and it helps trying to foresee what their next movements are to prevent conflict.
6. How can Stellenbosch improve cycle infrastructure and how can we make our town more cycle friendly?
Many drivers in Stellenbosch (compared to other places I’ve been) are not very tolerant towards cyclists and they do not like to share the road. I noticed the new traffic signs “Pass wide”, which are great – however these are only effective if people take note of them. That being said, I think educating drivers would help a lot to increase acceptance. Cycle lanes can be useful, but they should be integrated with the flow of traffic rather than being treated as separate entities. I am thinking of the traffic circle on Merriman and Cluver here, where “going with the flow” as a cyclist is difficult due to the separate cycle lanes. Furthermore, it is difficult to find a place to lock my bike in town. People have been very tolerant towards me taking it into restaurants, but that is not always a good option.