Use of bicycles and decongestion of the CBD

Use of bicycles and decongestion of the CBD
Published: 11 June 2019 (162 Views)
Recently the new Minister of Energy suggested that the use of bicycles could alleviate the fuel shortage in the country. But the fact is that the use of bicycles is another venture of going-back-to-the-future in that most suburbs, both low and high density, used to have a network of cycle tracks linking them to industry: e.g. from Mabvuku to Msasa, and to schools: almost all former Group A schools had cycle tracks for students to cycle to and from school, e.g. both Marlborough High and Marlborough Primary School have a cycle track from Harare Drive along Sawley Way and Sherwood Avenue respectively, with another cycle track along the entire length of Marlborough Drive; in Chinhoyi there was a cycle track from Muzari suburb to Chinhoyi High School, complete with an underpass under the Harare – Chirundu Road.

Unfortunately, primarily due to ineptitude and lack of appreciation, almost all of the cycle tracks have been neglected to dereliction due to lack of maintenance. But the cycle track network does have residual value and it could be resuscitated fairly quickly, which move must be complimented by traffic safety education of both the cyclists and the motorists in order to mitigate and minimise the inevitable potential conflict between the two modes of transport.

The use of bicycles is therefore not a new idea for Harare, and elsewhere for that matter. In Harare, the use of bicycles just requires the revival of the network of cycle tracks that were always an integral part of the City master plans from the 1950's, which plans included the reservation of widened road servitudes for the major roads, including Harare Drive ring road, Lomagundi Road (with a cycle track from Suffolk Road up to Avonlea Road), Golden Stairs/ Mazowe Road, Churchill Road in Gunhill, Airport Road in Hatfield and Bulawayo Road from Rotten Row to Kuwadzana.

The 1957 physical layout plans were used in the detailed engineering designs for the dualisation of both the Bulawayo Road (1996), and the Airport Road (2008), which designs included cycle tracks on both sides that remain part of the plans for the Airport freeway that is still to be completed, complete with grade-separation structures flyovers at all the major 7 intersections which flyovers incorporate the cycle tracks.

The congestion in the CBD (central business district) of Harare requires more than just accessibility by bicycles; it requires a clean, safe and efficient public passenger transportation system (PPTS) incorporating a regular shuttle service e.g. from the Fourth Street bus terminus to the Market Square bus terminus using Robert Mugabe Road, on to Rotten Row, then Samora Machel Avenue, back to Fourth Street; with pick-up/drop-off points at strategic locations along the loop, and the buses running at a frequency to suit the demand at any given time.

The shuttle service (PPTS) will require dedicated bus lanes giving priority to the shuttle buses along the route.

For an efficient and professional public passenger transport service (PPTS), there will be need to conduct a thorough feasibility study to identify the bus routes, ranking bus stops and termini with passenger shelters and boarding control systems, and determination of a composite passenger vehicle fleet with a range of capacities to meet the demand on each route at peak and off-peak periods. The PPTS must be something bigger and better than the Harare United Omnibus Company (HUOC), the urban predecessor of ZUPCO (the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company), to cater for the increased population.

Along with the Fourth Street and Market Square facilities, the termini at Rezende Street at the main post office and at Charter Road, and elsewhere around the City, will need to be reinstated and upgraded, as well as complimented with new ones like the one at Coventry Road, Dieppe/Seke Road, National Sports Stadium, and elsewhere.

There is also need to resuscitate and upgrade the dysfunctional traffic control system with a more modern computer-based one incorporating real-time kinematic telemetry and CCTV (closed circuit television) for more efficient, coordinated and integrated real-time traffic flow management.

The discourse on the shuttle system and the traffic control system was presented in the 2016-17 Zimbabwe National Transport Master Plan (ZNTMP), which plan continues to gather dust at the Ministry of Transport. The author personally drafted the section on the roads sector in the ZNTMP, which is how he knows about this. So it is nothing new, more a case of trying to re-invent the wheel to make it more round.

Eng Bernard Musarurwa <bernardmusarurwa@gmail.com>

- Eng Bernard Musarurwa

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