Wheels of change: Langa bicycle hub hopes to start cycling revolution

This article originally appeared on News24 here.

The wheels of change are slowly turning in Langa, thanks to one man’s dream of creating a cycling revolution.

Mzikhona Mgedle, a cycling enthusiast, conceived the idea for a local bicycle hub two months into the nationwide lockdown – after he was retrenched.

Mgedle started the Langa Bicycle Hub in his tiny, second floor flat, before moving operations into customised containers next to a local sports park.

“I really love bicycles,” Mgedle said, his face beaming.

The hub offers cycling lessons, tours around the community, repairs and bicycle rentals – and has become a home to all of Langa’s cycling needs.

“They are saving you so much money in commuting from one point to another. It’s very good that we start this initiative in Langa because it’s so central.”

He’s even offered cycles to citizens who patrolled the area.

Changing behaviour

Mgedle’s main objective, however, is to change the way people commute in their everyday lives.

“There aren’t enough people using bicycles. We’re just trying to target even less than 5% of the community. It will take us many years to achieve our goal of non-motorised transport,” he said.

He ultimately wants to see more women and children on bicycles and aims to encourage this as a form of transport and community building.

“I was inspired to start this initiative by my previous work, Open Streets Cape Town,” he said.
This citizen-driven initiative works to change how people use, perceive and experience streets.

“I gained so much interest working for the team and working for the cause of shutting down streets for communities to come together to unite.”

Mgedle said public spaces in the community, like parks and playgrounds, were becoming dumpsites.

“Public parks are not child friendly; they are not accommodative enough for the community…

We want to have more of these public spaces occupied,” he added.

‘A bicycle revolution’

Commuting on a bicycle is not only good for the environment, but it also changes the way you interact with your surroundings, he told News24.

“You’re willing to access communities with different eyes, not from under the glass window… You are willing to be more physical within any space with a bicycle because you’re riding, getting to greet people, see places and create your own routes.”

Mgedle hopes to see more public spaces occupied by bicycle hubs, from Khayelitsha and Gugulethu to the Cape Flats.

“We hope to have more bicycles for disadvantaged communities… transporting elderly to pension funds. We have exciting dreams,” he said.

But capital, resources and government assistance are barriers to achieving their goals.

“So we are just reaching out to everyone who would like to support us or maybe support other [bicycle hubs] in different communities because it’s not about us; it’s about bicycles and connecting communities,” he said.