Cape Town’s bicycle mayor is empowering township communities 

Juma Mkwela

Sindile Mavundla from Khayelitsha township in Cape Town, South Africa is one of Africa’s bicycle mayors along with others from Botswana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe and Nigeria. The global Bicycle Mayor Network began in 2016 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and now has over 100 members worldwide who promote cycling in their respective countries.

Mavundla’s mission as bicycle mayor of Cape Town is to create more diversity and accessibility of the cycling culture in South Africa. To make commuting by bike easier for local communities, he works together with the non-profit Active Mobility Forum. They aim to implement safer infrastructure, make bicycles more affordable and hold cycling clinics to teach road safety.

Mavundla opened a bike shop called Khaltsha Cycles in 2019 which supports the promotion of cycling in townships. 260 riders are part of the cycling community created there, who commute by bicycle on a daily basis.

Together with the non-profit mobility organisation Qhubeka, they have donated 1,220 bikes to Thembelihle High School, in Cape Town. Students from the school between the ages of 15 – 18 have learned to ride a bike and 85% of them now use a bike to get to school. Sometimes the schools are a long distance from home so cycling helps children be alert and ready for the school day ahead, instead of tired.

Neil Robinson, CEO of Cape Town’s Pedal Power Association aims to have 5% of Cape Town’s population commuting by bicycle by 2030. He believes that giving bikes to people from poorer communities creates economic opportunities for them. 

Cape Town’s first bicycle mayor, Lebogang Mokwena introduced cycling classes in the city through a programme called Learn2Cycle, which empowers women to learn how to cycle and the rules of the road. Mavundla has continued Mokwena’s legacy and has taught over 200 women to cycle.

Photo (c): Nick Migwi


Author: Sylvia Jacobs

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