I'm learning to bike with our folding bike in Cape Town, and for the most part, I ride every afternoon from home to the UCT medical campus, across from Groote Schuur hospital. There's a few things I have been surprised to learn:
2) Main Road is scary. I had to ride down main road from Mowbray to Woodstock, and between the minibus taxis and the other buses, I felt intimidated and vulnerable. The minibus taxis are, for the most part, very observant (even if not observant of traffic laws) but still, it's totally worth using side rodes below main road and taking a little longer.
3) I can understand the no-helmet folks. I used to think that people who biked without a helmet were crazy, but I now find myself biking without a helmet when I'm travelling short distances on fairly quiet roads. I feel like I'm more aware of my environment and am able to interact with people on my ride. I feel I don't sweat as much, so I'm not as self-concsious when I arrive at university. I also feel like the more I interact with drivers and try to communicate my intentions, the safer I am. It may still be foolhardy.
4) When I look drivers in the eye, smile, and wave my intention, they tend to be really nice. At first, when I was feeling insecure in the busy intersection before the hospital (Main Rd and Anzio), I tried to be assertive and just ended up more angry. Then I shifted to being friendly and outgoing and it really helped. My take home from this is that most drivers want to do the right thing, but they're not used to bikes.
Anyway, I'm very much a novice biker in Cape Town but biking around the city is very much a possibility, and I'm hoping we get to explore biking as our primary mode of transportation over the next year. If you're more experienced (or not, but you have tips), I would love to hear from you!