The art of acting the part
By Adriaan Bester
In spectacular self-help survivor style, I often update my list of self-affirmations. Cycling, using public transport and integrating more effectively with unknown, fellow earthlings hover without fail between positions three and seven on a list that often grows strongly into the early twenties.
It augments well with a previous affirmation that was fulfilled only a short three odd years ago: becoming a Capetonian. Physically, as I actually believe being Capetonian is really a state-of-mind, which means you can also be one living in, say Reykjavik, and apply for membership of this society. Provided you share a similar set of values and attract some level of inner calmness.
With the secret out then that I, like so many of the other proud promenade-walkers, beachgoers and Kloof street hoggers, are proud imports to this magnificent city, I should also confess that pre-Cape Town myths about its ‘clicky’ nature is just a nasty tactic to distract wannabe mother city movers from making the final jump.
Along with keeping and updating a self-affirmation list, I also harbor a habit, passed on over many generations that can only loosely be described as buyer’s remorse. So after purchasing a bicycle at the start of 2010, I had it perfectly placed for dust gathering duty.
All that changed in a space of a few weeks when a big career change gave me time to re-evaluate the need for constant alloy protection and surround stereo with local stations that hardly ever touch my musical nuance anyway.
It takes some serious dedication on my part, as the closest MyCiti bus station to my house is a brisk 45-minute walk, and trekking back is at an angle that surely qualifies as mountaineering. Yet I found use for my bicycle, as well as testing transport in harmony with a silent integration with the real Cape Town experience.
Against the prediction of some nay-sayers, my experience of MyCiti has been one where a large variety of Cape Town get to look each other in the eye, give an approving nod and hop onto a new direction of discovery (or routine). It brings new life to Civic Centre as amateur commuters consolingly get advice from hardcore train and bus riders for advice on connecting to their destinations and new arrivals get free advice on where to test the true spirit of town.
Out of (corporate) habit I have made a handsome list of customer experience improvements that I am happy to pass on to the chaps who brought us the new shiny Volvo machines on trendy red lanes and marvelous indigenous gardens. In fact, with the impact on social media on all our lives, I have been able to do so in real time and am somewhat convinced that every tip has been meticulously recorded for the boardroom moments of reflection when they plan future improvements. Such is my faith in their intention to spend our tax money and patience wisely. #watchingyou
So when a group of yet-to-meet-each other friends decided to launch #busbikebash on Twitter in celebration of the first ride out on the West Coast route on 16 May, it was a historic feat for all elements that feature randomly on my self-improvement list. Our mission was rather simple: Meeting at the Civic Centre, armed and identifiable by bicycle, no spandex outfits were required or allowed, nor the concept of racing to win. Rather, this was an invitation to put to the test our admiration for a new landmark on our shiny shores. And while our group was less than a dozen strong, we managed to attract interest from a range of Capetonians, including thoroughbreds (i.e. those born here) as well as some local and international transplants.
Since the historic day of integrating cycling and riding the bus, my lone cycles have multiplied slowly as buses get fuller every time I hop back on and my faith grows deeper in the spirit of the marvelous people I share a city with.
For the record, I was not paid to write these nice things about MyCiti…although I will accept calls from them to discuss future arrangements…;-)
Some visual memories…