Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust Thank You Dinner Speech | Western Cape Government


Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust Thank You Dinner Speech

27 May 2011

Ladies and gentleman, rotarians, Pedal Power associates, department officials, and sponsors, organisers and friends of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, welcome and thank you for being my guests here this evening.

It is not easy to start speaking about the world's largest individually timed cycle race and clearly South Africa's biggest cycle tour as there is just so much to say. Perhaps I should start by telling you about my own experiences with cycling. Long before I was the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport here in the Western Cape, I used to cycle to work everyday. It was a long trip, and it was at a time when we never had the luxury of dedicated cycle lanes, but this time gave me an opportunity to reflect on life, my projects and the things that were important to me.

I spoke in more detail about this a few weeks ago when I hosted a thank you breakfast for a mountain bike club in Durbanville at the Majik Forest cycling trail.

But today I'd like to tell you more about that breakfast; I had heard how a thug had been hiding in the bushes on the trail and then jumping out and hitting cyclists off their bikes with a spiked club, stealing their bikes and leaving them injured and alone on this trail. Reading this shocked me. Thankfully those that were attacked have recovered.

What made me proud to be a citizen of the Western Cape was further in the article when I read how the local cycling community immediately came together and involved the local law enforcement and neighbourhood watch. Together they started regular patrols of the area to ensure a safe cycling environment for businessmen and women who needed a place to unwind after a long, hard day at work, and for the families that cycled with their children along this trail. These people made sure that their trail would remain safe and active and that they had a place where they could live a healthy lifestyle.

What I am trying to convey here is how important cycling is not just to the professional cyclists, but to our communities and our economy too. Just yesterday I read an article about the new MyCiti busses that have a special place on every single bus for your bicycles. When a multimillion rand transport project includes room for cyclists, then you know how important you are to this province and to this city. The first sentence on that article was "Cape Town has been deemed one of the world's 15 most bike-friendly cities". With no less than 50 000 cities in the world (according to one piece of research), I thought this was fantastic news; however, the next sentence read "although city officials are pleased, they acknowledge it will be some time before Cape Town is ready to rank itself among the best in the world". Already, we are aiming to be number one, in yet another category.

Mr Dave Bellairs, the Rotary Club of Claremont and fellow rotarians, the Pedal Power Association, the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, Pick n Pay, Cape Argus and everyone else involved in the organisation, management, marketing and sponsorship of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, it is because of you that this event is such a resounding success. It is because of you that cycling is a major contributor to the economy of the Western Cape and because of you that this city has recognised your value by making special accommodation on our brand new bus service and building the longest dedicated cycle lane in South Africa, with more than 300km of cycle paths across Cape Town.

Cycling is not only about fitness and fun, it provides us with an opportunity to contribute towards social upliftment and the further development of cycling; for this I would like to thank the rotarians for their hard work in using cycling as a platform to give back to our communities.

Ladies and gentleman, I don't want to keep you from your dinner, so I am going to close off now. I would just like to extend my utmost thanks for your ongoing commitment and dedication to making the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour a success; your legacy lives on.