Snethemba Vaphi (22) can’t hide his excitement about being a cyclist. He wants to compete internationally.
Vaphi said, “A friend of mine introduced me to the sport in 2013 and I’ve been cycling ever since. I would like to see myself cycling in big championships like the Tour de France. And with the kind of support I get from my family and community I’m sure I will make it to the big time.”
Vaphi is a member of a team of Khayelitsha cyclists called Yep Clan Cycling Development. Their manager is Bonga Ngqobane. He is working hard to make sure the sport becomes one of the biggest and most loved in the township.
“Last year we introduced a programme in schools which is called inter-school duathlon because not everyone can play the more popular sports like soccer. So we are giving them variety. At the moment we are focusing on four schools because we don’t have enough bikes to accommodate every school.”
Ngqobane says that lack of sponsorship means they have a lack of equipment and cycling equipment is expensive, which makes it hard to grow the sport as fast as he would like. One serious problem facing the cycling team is road safety. Although up-to-date statistics are hard to come by on Arrive Alive’s website (there were 270 fatalities in 2004, the last year listed on the site), a few hundred cyclists are killed on South Africa’s roads annually. Khayelitsha’s roads are particularly scary.
Lubabalo Bongweni, one of Yep Clan Cycling Development members says that being hit by a car is his worst nightmare. He has survived one accident already. As the 22-year-old explains, “I was hit by a car last year while cycling in Somerset West but lucky for me I wasn’t seriously injured which is why I’m still doing the sport. Motorists are a big risk.”
Bongweni says, “I would like to see motorists taking cyclists as serious road users especially in our townships. Because motorists here don’t follow rules when driving. They always think they have the right of way and never stop for anyone else.”
Ngqobane agrees, “Taxi drivers are the worst. They insult us all the time saying we don’t belong on the road. But so far we’ve only had two cyclists involved in road accidents and they are both going g. We just need to create more awareness on the roads.”
Source : GroundUp