In South Africa bicycle lanes are few and far between. You will be lucky to cycle along a road where there is a dedicated stretch of tar for cyclists. One wonders whether our cities will ever follow in the footsteps of the more cycle friendly European and American cities.
Some cities, for example, New York, have right-of-way laws for cyclists. These laws together with proper bike lanes reduce the dangers on urban riding. We certainly do not have those laws and the majority of our urban riding is done on roads without bike lanes, hence the reason why South Africans do not commute to work.
A great example of a city promoting cycling is Copenhagen, who together with bike advocacy group ibikecph have installed a simple, low-tech fix that makes riding in the famously bike-friendly city even easier. The idea is a pair of railings, one low, one high, for cyclists stopped at intersections to balance on. You grab one and rest your foot on the other, so you can push off faster when the light turns green instead of rolling slowly through traffic fumbling with your pedals. The text reads: “Hi, cyclist! Rest your foot here… and thank you for cycling in the city.”
Ride around any city enough and you’ll take to balancing on signposts (in Copenhagen they’re rumored to be rubbed smooth by so many cyclists’ hands). These new railings play right into that behavior, but make it easier and safer, a great example of a city adjusting its infrastructure to what cyclists naturally do.
Another concept I came across is The Light Lane, which allows any bike rider to project a traffic lane around them. This technology uses a cheap lasers to project a lane around the rider. Of course, it only works at night and lets face it, riding around our cities at night is not the safest thing to do nowadays. It does look affective though.