The Department of Transport has gazetted its National Land Transport Strategic Framework (NLTSF) for 2023-2028, outlining the government’s plans to revive and restore South Africa’s crumbling transport infrastructure. Big changes are coming for roads in South Africa, with 2m sidewalks and bicycle lanes changing the way that people commute within urban spaces.
A vision for transport
While the NLTSF does not detail specific outcomes for transport, it delivers a sober review of the current state of transport and related infrastructure in South Africa. It also provides a “vision” for how the sector should operate along with short-term (five-year) goals.
One of the biggest issues flagged, is that the provision of pedestrian and cycling facilities is still not mandatory for new developments and that there is no systematic focus on walking and cycling.
Long walk, short cycle
Most people in South Africa do not have a private vehicle and depend on public transport and other non-motorised transport (NMT) to get to work, school or amenities.
26,3% of people use walking as their main mode of transport.
1,3% of the population use cycling.
In rural areas, the number shifts to 39,2% of people who walk.
Safer and more accessible walking and cycling infrastructure is therefore planned, which also forms part of the department’s goal to reduce carbon emissions. Given the low cost of this form of mobility, it has the potential to bring about equity and create accessibility for people who cannot afford public transport or private vehicles.
Developing for mobility
The goal is that cities and municipalities not only provide mainstream NMT considerations in planning and providing safe and fit-for-purpose NMT infrastructure, but also develop programmes that will attract new cyclists and pedestrians.
The department proposed that municipalities make provision for unimpeded (no light poles, road signs, informal traders, etc.), minimum of 2m-wide, sidewalks and a minimum of 1,5m-wide cycle lanes as a standard requirement for all municipal roads.
This would include the necessary signage, communication, enforcement and maintenance – while also raising awareness and advocating these facilities.
Over the next five years, the department aims to develop national guidelines and standards for NMT as a sub-sector of the transport system, ensuring consistent planning and designs that receive the necessary funding. It also wants to draw more investment into safe NMT facilities, particularly for schools, and to increase the number of bicycles it distributes through its programmes.