Freedom Ride a fun-filled cycle through Joburg

Meandering through Joburg's inner city through to Soweto, the Freedom Ride cycle tour is a tribute to a struggle won and a vibrant, bustling African city.

freedom ride poster 250Johannesburg cyclists - professionals, amateurs, and family and club groups – are invited to join Executive Mayor of the City of Joburg, Councillor Parks Tau, and a number of mayors from around the world to enjoy a fun-filled cycle through Joburg.

The Freedom Ride pays tribute to late statesman, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s efforts to eradicate apartheid and build national unity. It runs for 35 km, from Johannesburg to Soweto and back and is designed to link the communities of Johannesburg and Soweto. The Ride will start and end at the Nelson Mandela Bridge in the inner city, on 9 February 2014.

It will follow the urban transport and development corridors network, the Corridors of Freedom launched by the City of Joburg.

Corridors of Freedom were introduced to Joburg residents by Executive Mayor Parks Tau in his State of the City address in May 2013. The programme is an effort to undo some of apartheid’s spatial planning, which the regime used to separate people on the basis of race.

The transport corridors will be focused around the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

The ride is not a race, but an opportunity to enjoy Joburg's scenery, view the JDA's developments first-hand and get some exercise in a fun social setting.

Bicycle empowerment centres

Although the ride is free, participants are asked to give back something to the community by raising funds and making a contribution to building a network of bicycle centres in Johannesburg and Gauteng.

The social event is backed by the City of Johannesburg, the Joburg Urban Cyclists Association, Critical Mass Johannesburg and the Bicycling Empowerment Initiative. The ride also aims to raise awareness on cycle safety and using bicycles for transport and recreation.

The Bicycle Empowerment Network distributes bicycles in low-income areas, trains people in safety and maintenance, helps set up small and medium-sized enterprises that maintain and service bicycles (Bicycle Empowerment Centres), and encourages cities to implement facilities and infrastructure for cyclists.

The funds raised through the Freedom Ride will enable the City to set up a Bicycle Empowerment Centre in Orlando, Soweto.

The route

The ride starts in Braamfontein at the Nelson Mandela Bridge. Participants can park in Braamfontein, and access the bridge from the city centre side by riding over the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, turning right into Carr Street, and then right onto the Nelson Mandela Bridge. There will be a short opening ceremony before riders set off.

The ride will pass historically significant sites, including Newclare Cemetery, where Walter and Albertina Sisulu are buried, the Bill Jardine Stadium, the Orlando Stadium, and the Mandela home on Vilakazi Street in Orlando West.

From the start line, the ride goes north up Bertha Street, turns left into Jorissen Street, and travels west along Enoch Sontonga Street by Braamfontein Cemetery, where Enoch Sontonga, the Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika composer is buried. The route crosses over Solomon Street into 8th Street, which then becomes Caroline Street. It goes through Brixton and joins Portland Street continuing west.

In 2014 a designated cycling lane will be implemented on this route to support students commuting between UJ and Wits and their places of residence.

At Hurst Hill the route turns left onto Harmony Street, and follows the Rea Vaya bus system route and one of Johannesburg’s Corridors of Freedom. Harmony Street becomes Commando Road, and passes Newclare. This will be the first water point.

Commando Road becomes New Canada Road, and goes through Pennyville social housing estate. It carries on into Soweto, becoming Mooki Street, and passes the historic Orlando Stadium. In Soweto the route turns right onto Sofasonke Street, crosses Klipspruit Valley Road, and then turns left into Vilakazi Street. After passing the Tutu and Mandela houses, the route turns right into Moema Street towards the Hector Pieterson Memorial.

The second water point will be at the Hector Pieterson Memorial, where participants can tie ribbons with personal messages on the railings during addresses from activists from the 1976 uprisings. The Hector Pieterson Memorial commemorates the 1976 student uprisings and the role students played in the liberation of South Africa.

The route then returns to the inner city. It continues down Pela Street and turns left into Armitage Street, which it follows before turning left into Klipspruit Valley Road. Klipspruit Valley Road continues through two traffic circles and becomes the N17, which passes under New Canada Road. The route follows the N17 until Nasrec Road, then turns left, passing Riverlea. The road carries on, becoming Marais Street, and then Du Toit Street. At the top of Du Toit Street, the route turns right into Albertina Sisulu Road. The third water point will be at this junction, next to Langlaagte Station.

The route follows Albertina Sisulu Road through Mayfair and Fordsburg, and after passing under the M1 freeway, turns right into Miriam Makeba Street, and left into Fox Street. It passes Chancellor House on the corner of Fox and Gerard Sekoto streets, where Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo established the first black law firm in Johannesburg. The route then turns left into Ntemi Piliso Street and follows this onto Nelson Mandela Bridge, where the ride ends.

Participants will then be directed right into De Korte Street and right again into De Beer Street, where locals will set up a street market and provide live entertainment.