The Pedal Power Association (PPA) has advised cyclists to be extra vigilant when they go out on their weekly rides.
This follows a spike in bicycle thefts and attacks on cyclists, of which two were fatal in Pretoria East, in areas across the province, including some parts of Ekurhuleni.
The PPA CEO Neil Robinson, explained the perpetrators are armed and dangerous and warned cyclists to avoid certain hotspots across the province.
In Pretoria, he said they should avoid quiet roads along the R21, M18 to and from the Big Red Barn in Irene, the M57 between the R21 and the M18, Moonlight Way that connects the R21 and R57 and the M26 in Erasmia, Centurion as well as Bothaslaan, the Tweefontein and Bronkhorstspruit area.
In Ekurhuleni, he advised cyclists to avoid the R25 between Kempton Park and Bapsfontein, and the R50, which leads to the Delmas area and the farm area along Eastlands outside Kempton Park.
He added that Summit Road close to Diepsloot and the Olifantsfontein area should also be avoided.
Robinson said the perpetrators move around in large vehicles and bakkies and target cyclists who ride alone and in smaller groups at around 04:30 to 08:30 in the mornings and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evenings.
“It is important for the riders to stay close to one another as the slower riders are usually targeted. It is vital to pay attention to any human activities ahead and not to wear earphones when cycling.”
“Exercise ‘situational 360-degree awareness’ and yes, it is great to chat to fellow cyclists while out riding but this could distract from potential dangers ahead and you might become a criminal’s next target,” he said.
The CEO commented that cyclists should avoid areas with lots of bushes and long grass, as the attackers hide there before launching a surprise attack.
“A backup vehicle is becoming essential for all rides, not just in Gauteng, to deter criminals from attacking cyclists.
“Please do not try to retaliate, as these criminals will shoot or stab their victims for bikes and other possessions,” says Robinson.
He warned cyclists to not trust anyone loitering next to the road, adding they should always be prepared for an attack when passing someone wanting to cross the road on approach.
“It seems like attacks have escalated the closer we are to the festive season and unfortunately there is a market for purchasing stolen bikes throughout South Africa which makes it an attractive option for criminals to make easy money,” he says.
“Gauteng SAPS has made some arrests, and we hope justice will be served, but it is important for all cyclists to be extremely careful when going out for a ride, Cyclists’ lives matter.”