It is with quite some interest that I followed the screening of Carte Blanche on DSTV and the programme on hijacking of mountain bikes – also known as bike jacking. Even in Bloemfontein there have recently been cases reported of young mountain bikers held at knife point and their bikes taken from them!
The safety of all road users has always been important for the developers of the Arrive Alive road safety website. This applies not only to drivers, passengers and pedestrians on our tarred roads, but also includes a focus on cycling, mountain biking, quad bike riding and 4×4 vehicle safety.
Mountain biking has enormous tourism potential for South Africa and we need to ensure that enthusiast can enjoy this sport in safety!
Mountain Bikers and Safety
It is with great concern that we have noted the targeting by criminals of our mountain biking community and would like to share some suggestions with mountain bikers from our Road Safety Partner Ctrack:
– Plan and know your route before you get on your bike.
Try to plan ahead so that you know where you’re going before you leave. Do your best to avoid roads and areas that are known to be dangerous, either because they are high accident or high crime spots. If you’re a mountain biker, head for one of the country’s many secure mountain biking trails rather than they trying to find your own way through the hills and koppies. Cycling clubs and experienced cyclists can be invaluable sources of route advice.
– Dress for safety and visibility
Wear reflective and fluorescent clothing to ensure that other vehicles can easily see you, wear a good helmet that fits you properly and cover your eyes with sunglasses or other protective eyewear to shield them against dirt, winds and insects.
– Cycle in groups
Sadly, hijackings and robberies of cyclists on urban roads and mountain trails are on the rise. Travel with at least five or more other cyclists to reduce your risk of falling prey to armed criminals.
– Be prepared with the right equipment
Ensure your bike is in good repair before you hit the road – check gears, tires, brakes and so on before you saddle up.
It’s a good idea to take a puncture repair kit with you so that you won’t need to push your bike 30 kilometres if you ride over a nail on a remote rural road. And take a cheap, fully-charged cellphone and some emergency cash along with you as well.
A personal tracking device such as Ctrack ICE (In Case of Emergency) can also enhance your safety. A cellphone and personal tracking device all-in-one, this light and compact device allows you to call Ctrack operator, who will in turn send the relevant emergency services to your exact location when there’s an emergency.
– Avoid night rides
It’s usually a good idea to avoid cycling at night because the dangers you face from both criminals and careless motorists multiply as soon as the sun sets. Be aware that the light at sunrise or sunset might blind drivers so that they don’t see you on the side of the road – be especially careful at these times of the day.
– Be alert to road conditions
Keep your eyes peeled at all times, whether you’re cycling on the streets or mountain biking. On the roads, look out for drivers who seem to be behaving recklessly, potholes, speed bumps, and debris, since any of these can cause you a nasty accident.
– Let someone know where you are going
If you’re planning a long ride, especially by yourself or in a small group, tell someone where you are going, which route you will be taking and when you expect to be back. This will ensure that someone will come looking for you if you’ve had a nasty fall in a donga or a collision with a car while you’re out on your bike.
On the Arrive Alive website there are 2 sections well worth of your attention: