Sunday, February 23, 2014

Another week: Obs to the Waterfront, Obs-Plumstead (again), and the public swimming pool

This weekend saw a lot of mileage for the Bullitt. We didn't take photos because the routes were a little more intense/weren't sure of safety, but I thought I'd write a quick post anyway.

Getting from Obs - Plumstead on a Sunday was infinitely easier than last time (we rode on a Saturday). Very doable and even enjoyable. The strong winds made life a bit more difficult, but we're all more confident, just knowing the route and being more confident on the quiet roads. The kids are still happy on the long ride. I'd now tend towards staying on main roads rather than trying to leave and enter traffic. We also discovered  that our last trip was the day of a major horse race, which explains a lot of the Saturday traffic and large tour buses.

We traveled for the first time to the V&A Waterfront, through the Cape Town CBD. There are plans afoot to create a bike lane on Albert Road, but for now getting to the city involves cycling in major traffic. The bike lane can't come soon enough. Thankfully, there isn't too much bus traffic (mainly car and minibus taxi). Once we got to Church Road in Woodstock, we were faced with a right turn in difficult traffic, in order to get onto the wonderful bike path that runs from Milnerton into the city.

When on that beautiful path that runs alongside the myciti bus route, I'm a lot more conscious that a) the city has been thinking of how to make biking more accessible for much longer than I've been biking. b) Biking offers a completely different view of the city.

While on this trip, we encountered a lot of homeless people living under bridges near to the city, and along the railway line, and I'm finally starting to feel something in me shift a bit. As you know if you read this blog, I'm theoretically trying to follow Jesus and be post-colonial, anti-racist and liberal and trying to see social ills in historical context and blah blah blah. But those abstract beliefs don't fit well together when I'm actually encountering beggars and homeless people. When faced with people who need/want something from me, I get guilty, angry, defensive and unsure of myself. This is where feeling "I can't help" unless I consider the the societal-level stuff collides with "here's a person who maybe could use someone noticing them", and these two ideas don't go together well. I don't want to be like this, but I honestly haven't been able to figure my way out of it. Praying about it hasn't helped. But riding along and seeing where people live, something is gradually shifting. When we bike, there's something to talk about with all kinds of people, and no hunk of metal to whisk us away. For the most part, people actually don't ask us for stuff as much, which paradoxically makes me feel less uncomfortable engaging and seeing where things lead.

Also on the Waterfront trip, I encountered my first negative comment: from a middle-aged white man driving a ridiculously expensive car who wagged a finger and said "what you're doing with those kids is very dangerous, you know?" I felt very small and very angry, and didn't say anything.

Observatory swimming pool
Observatory swimming pool has been an uncomfortable distance: too far to walk, to short to justify driving. So riding is perfect. Entrance is just R5 (US$0.50), and the kids love it.  I wish they opened earlier than 10am, but otherwise I'm so encouraged that, even as some beaches will be less accessible without the car, other options are opening up.

We're putting our best effort into selling the car this week, and hope to write more (with an exciting, rare, guest writing appearance from Eug) next week on Composting Faith.


Camissa Bicycles said...

Love the updates Jo. Ignore those people in their massive cars - they're just angry at themselves.

Concrete Gardener said...

Thank you Jon! We continue to enjoy the bike. Eug also wrote about his experience on Composting Faith ( and we're even braving Main Road without too much stress. It's a lovely way to travel.