|TARGET #||DESCRIPTION||SA STATUS
(PER 2019 COUNTRY REPORT)
|3.4||By 2030, reduce by one third 1/3 premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and wellbeing
|Mortality rates attributed to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases have remained relatively stable between 2011 and 2016
For 2016 these rates were:
· Cardiovascular disease: 11%
· Cancer: 7%
· Diabetes: 4%
· Chronic respiratory diseases: 3%
In 2013, the suicide mortality rate was on the increase, but it declined in 2015 when it was 1,3 per 100 000
|3.6||By 2030, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
|The death rate due to road traffic injuries decreased from 27,5 deaths per 100 000 in 2010 to 24,9 in 2017. The target is to halve the 2010 rate − that is, the target is 13,75 per 100 000 deaths
|3.9||By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination
|Mortality from unintentional poisoning in 2011 was 0,2 per 100 000 and also 0,2 per 100 000 in 2015
Global cities are beginning to reshape and implement changes to their urban environments as the lockdown eases post COVID-19, emphasising the need to implement the SDGs with ever more critical urgency. Even when easing in scale, the lockdowns, present the opportunity for urban environments to reclaim space from cars and allow safer and more sustainable and eco-friendly modes of travel to take hold. In multiple cases, cities have recognised the need to move away from the harmful and damaging causes and many health risks that affect local residents, most notably from CO2 emissions and traffic accidents/crashes. Poor air quality aggravates the effects of the coronavirus, and cities recognise the need to minimise the use of cars (particularly privately owned, single occupancy) from their urban spaces such as schools, campuses and residential streets –favouring bicycles, walking, and public transport instead.
In a recent publication by the European Union,  the authors outline ways in which EU cities have responded to the pandemic with a vision for reimagining our cities in a more sustainable way. These include increased and more effective levels of communication between the relevant roleplayers and stakeholders, resulting in clear lines of decision-making. There is also a general consensus on the need to reduce non-essential car use to an absolute minimum, including the need to make public transport and cycling safer and more efficient.
As a direct result of COVID-19, cities have recognised the need for increased mobility for key essential workers, including the provision of bicycles in select areas and for certain services. It is argued that there is also a need to improve the mobility needs of patients, including a renewed emphasis on, for example, ‘medical’ buses. Furthermore, there is a clear need for increased sustainability and practicality of delivery services when many choose not to leave their homes. In many cases, bicycle deliveries can be the best solution to this. And finally, the authors highlight the need for enabling a healthier environment – involving a strong emphasis on greater levels of exercise. The report outlines that for these measures to be successful, there needs to be a strong behavioural and attitudinal change and with it, a reallocation of space and the urban environment.
The outcomes of the SDGs, notably SDG 3, converge with much of this current thinking and the ensuing reimagining necessary post COVID-19. It talks to a clear shift to greater levels of exercise and health, lower dependence on the motor car, cleaner air, and reduced traffic fatalities. Cycling, by its very nature, is profoundly democratic, healthy, sustainable and egalitarian. The greater extent to which we can all reshape our environment, the greater the extent of recovery from the effects of the pandemic will be.
How this applies to South Africa and what South Africa’s status is in increasing the use of cycling as a mode of transport
South Africa, through the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Transport, began to develop a policy on non-motorised transport (specifically cycling and walking) in the early 2000s. In the period since, much research and conferencing, international exchanges and development of pilot models of intervention have taken place in our major cities. As a result, the international call for increased levels of cycling has been taken up in part by the national government, albeit with a stronger emphasis on pedestrian infrastructure than that of cycling lanes given the low levels of available bicycles and the large numbers of people who walk many kilometres every day.
Is there any policy development in South Africa to support this?
Yes, the South African government subscribes to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in principle and many of the provincial and local (municipal) departments have formed structures and development plans as a part of their policy frameworks. Thus, the framework of all future planning is set within the guidelines as outlined by the SDGs.
How can we as South Africans support the use of cycling for our transport needs?
First and foremost, by starting to cycle as much as one can. Leave the car at home for as many trips as you can manage. Locate safer streets and paths where you would feel comfortable to cycle and test them out on a quiet weekend to start with. Then gradually, as you grow in confidence, begin to replace more car trips with bike trips. Start a local bike discussion group with your neighbours and find out who could join. Form interest groups of local residents who can help develop a local policy and local planning schemes to address traffic concerns in your areas – and submit ideas through the local residents’ forums to your local councillor. Request interventions for traffic calming around schools and parks, such as speed reductions, street furniture and increased signage. When the policymakers see an increase in numbers of cyclists on particular routes, they are more inclined to invest funds in making them safer and building more bike lanes in those areas.
How do we address safety and the lack of cycle lanes (especially in Johannesburg)?
Linked to the above, we need to get interest groups and start civic action forums to look at safety and mobility. These groups need to be widely representative of diverse stakeholder groups and decide upon common ground as to the challenges, risks and strategies to address them. A good way to start is to choose small pilot areas where small interventions can be implemented and tested against the intended outcomes, such as reduced speed, safer streets, fewer cars and cleaner air. In Johannesburg specifically, much can be made of short origin-destination shopping and school trips in the leafy northern suburbs and, simultaneously, advancing the supply of bicycles to the townships and poorer communities with key measures in both cases to address road safety, increase bike lanes and reduce speed limits on local residential (cyclable) corridors and streets.
What would it take for South African cities to become like Amsterdam in their promotion and use of cycling?
Amsterdam and other Dutch cities have been working on increased levels of cycling since the 1950s and apart from periodic setbacks, have been hugely successful in increasing cycling to 25% to 40% of all trips. South African cities need to set the goals to more realistic, manageable levels – and build slowly. It is best not to compare us directly to Dutch and Danish cities but rather to look at the measures they took as instructive to what can be successful here and to then adapt these ideas to what works locally. One first measure would be to choose local pilot areas for intervention (‘low-hanging fruit’) and committing to increased bike lane planning and increased bike supply to the area. Then it is about carefully monitoring and researching the effects – the positive and the challenging (a SWOT analysis) – and to build solutions for further interventions.
Who you can contact if you would like to contribute towards progressing this initiative in support of the SDGs
Andrew Wheeldon: www.bicyclecities.info
Cell: 082 598 9178
 https://www.eltis.org/mobility-plans/project-partners/european-platform-sustainable-urban-mobility-plans-platform; https://ec.europa.eu/inea/en/horizon-2020/projects/h2020-transport/urban-mobility/civitas-satellite.
 Details can be obtained at https://www.environment.gov.za/projectsprogrammes/nonmotorizedtransport_southafrica#background.