Riding towards a more cycle-friendly Joburg
Two Brixton-based cyclists want Jozi to embrace the sport
by JHBLive Posted: 2018/01/02
Have you ever wondered what Joburg would look like with less cars? How the streets would look if more people walked, or even cycled? David du Preez has thought about it a lot. In fact, it’s a thought he’s trying to turn into a reality.
Founder and owner of Brixton’s coolest coffee shop, you’ll most likely know Du Preez from Breezeblock, where he spends most of his weekdays. Come Saturday mornings however, he’s out on the streets as the founder of The Bicycle, a small business that sees him schooling others in his favourite pastime – cycling.
“When I lived in London, I cycled everywhere and it’s something I loved being able to do,” explains Du Preez. “Once I returned to Joburg, I met up with a French cyclist (Olivier Leveque) who had just started Johannesburg’s local cycling advocacy group, after he found there was not one in existence. Those were the early days of the Johannesburg Urban Cycling Association.”
At some stage the organisation began receiving requests for lessons, and again, out of lack for any nearby associations or schools that offered cycling lessons, Du Preez decided to start giving his own lessons. Du Preez began teaching lessons out of his home in 2015. Now, together with courier and competitive cyclist Mpho Moloi, he teaches cycling lessons every Saturday morning in Brixton.
“We’ve taught about 34 people so far,” says Du Preez. “Some are more sporty than others and so they take to it faster, but everyone gets up and cycling at their own pace within the first lesson. It’s a great process.”
When JHBLive meets up with Moloi and Du Preez, it’s an early Saturday morning and the two are holding their first lesson with a mother and her two daughters. After meeting at Breezeblock, it’s a short walk up the road to the empty tennis courts where their first lesson will begin.
For first-time cyclists, they’re doing well. Today, Moloi explains, they’ll be learning to peddle, but not before practicing their balance on the bike. “It can be a slow or a fast process depending on the students,” he says. “In the lessons after this, well lay some cones out for them to weave through and practice their turns, and from there we hit the road which is where it really gets fun.”
Besides both being patient and well-informed teachers, Moloi and Du Preez are incredibly passionate about what they do. Moloi participates in numerous competitions around the country and regularly races in Namibia and Swaziland, too. For du Preez, it’s all about encouraging others to choose a bike ride or a brisk walk over a car or a taxi ride.
“I think that’s what I love the most about cycling,” du Preez says after some thought. “It allows you to interact with the city, and with its people, in a way that you aren’t able to from inside a car.”
Looking forward, the two hope to grow their business, bringing in students that range from the young and old, and to set the pace for a more bicycle-friendly city, starting with Brixton.
“A lot of it is a perception issue, actually. Motorists will drive on Jan Smuts Avenue and think ‘Ah I never want to cycle on that road it’s a deathtrap’ and I mean it is, but that’s not the road that one should be cycling on. There are so many quiet suburban roads or areas where either vehicles aren’t travelling at high speeds or there’s low traffic volume. And not only in Brixton. In Diepsloot there’s a great cycling culture, and further East, too. Obviously Joburg won’t be like Holland or the UK overnight, but if we can get to a point where we have enough cyclists on the road for it to be a common thing to see, then we’re getting somewhere,” says du Preez.
The Bicycle accepts all students, from absolute beginners, to those simply looking to brush up on their skills. If you’re interested in booking a lesson, contact David du Preez on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also have a look at their Facebook page.