We recently teamed up with Garmin to create the South African Cycling Safety Survey, which we ran digitally for four weeks. A total of 1029 responded to the survey across the spectrum of road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes and others. Here are the results.

For a fairly niche survey, we were very pleased with more than 1000 responses. There was a total of 12 questions, which took an average of three minutes to complete.

In 2015 Garmin acquired iKubu Ltd, a South African company that developed a motor vehicle radar warning system for cyclists, now known as the Garmin Varia https://buy.garmin.com/en-ZA/ZA/p/601468 , which is incorporated into a Smart rear cycling light that warns of vehicles approaching from behind (from up to 140 metres away) and which is unique to Garmin.

Last year, a third generation of the Varia was released to the market with Bluetooth, enabling it to connect to the Garmin Varia third party app on Smartphones as well as to GPS devices from brands like Wahoo, Hammerhead and Stages, which have a built-in Radar feature. So now you don’t have to specifically own a Garmin device to be able to use the Varia, making this potentially life-saving technology far more accessible.

Some of our survey questions revolved around the Garmin Varia, which we feel is an essential piece of technology for all South African cyclists that do any kind of riding on roads shared with motor vehicles.

What type of bicycle rider are you predominantly?

Mountain biker (including eMTBs) 65.14%
Road cyclist 29.93%
Triathlete 3.01%
Other 2.92%

Not surprisingly mountain biking was the largest segment of survey takers. We did try to target other cycling communities too, but ultimately TREAD is a mountain bike media. We were quite pleased to see such a high percentage of roadies though. More than we expected!

What is your sex?

Male 81.54%
Female 18.46%

Most of our surveys show between 19-24 % female, so this was on the lower side in terms of female respondents. However, 190 women’s opinions most certainly count!

Where do you live?

Gauteng 54.91%
North West 1.36%
Limpopo 0.87%
Mpumalanga 2.82%
Free State 0.78%
KwaZulu-Natal 10.20%
Northern Cape 0.49%
Eastern Cape 5.54%
Western Cape 21.28%
Currently outside of SA 1.75%

Fairly standard spread of responders based on our other surveys, although Western Cape is a little lower than the 23-26% we normally see.

Before taking this survey, had you ever heard about Garmin’s Varia radar device?

Yes 75.70%
No 24.30%

Garmin has been running some advertising content around the Garmin Varia with TREAD Media for the past nine months, so it was encouraging to see the high level of product awareness.

If yes, where did you hear about it?

Can’t remember 4.89%
Word of mouth 6.06%
Someone I ride with uses it 24.68%
SA cycling media 18.19%
International cycling media 6.70%
Social media 22.34%
Other 17.13%

A key feature of the Garmin Varia is that if you have a Radar setting on your GPS device (Garmin opened this up to competitor brands Wahoo and Hammerhead and Stages), you can pair it with another rider in your group that has a Garmin Varia radar.

Have you ever been hit (or clipped) from behind by a motor vehicle while cycling?

Yes 20.02%
No 33.53%
Had a least one very close call 37.12%
Not me, but someone I know has 9.33%

A total of 206 (one fifth) of the respondents have been hit or clipped from behind by a motor vehicle while cycling. One fifth! That’s a really scary statistic!

When riding on a road that you share with motor vehicles, how would you rate your fear of being hit from behind by a vehicle?

Not really afraid 2.14%
Afraid on certain sections of road 58.79%
Consistently afraid 29.35%
Very afraid 9.72%

Not surprisingly, the overall fear is high. Hard to relax and enjoy your riding when you’re concerned about something that might happen that might kill or injure you…

Mountain bikers, how much of your riding approximately is on a road with other vehicles (consider tar and gravel roads)?

Less than 10% 9.52%
About 10-20% 14.08%
About 20-30% 22.39%
About 30-40% 18.34%
About 40-50% 18.84%
More than 50% 16.82%

Obviously roadies and triathletes spend most of their riding time sharing on public roads. We wanted to get an idea what amount of time, approximately, mountain bikers spend on public roads. Even hardcore gravity riders will usually need to ride (or manual!) to and from a riding venue/trails park. Some South African mountain bikers either aren’t into technical riding or singletrack or don’t live near a mountain bike trails park, so potentially do all of their riding on public roads, which would mostly be gravel roads.

Are you covered by medical aid?

Yes 87.27%
No 3.79%
Just a hospital plan 8.94%

Is your bicycle insured?

Yes 71.91%
No 28.09%

Do you ride with medical identification such as ICE ID?

Yes 52.77%
No 47.23%

Now that you are aware of the Garmin Varia radar device, are you likely to consider purchasing one?

Yes 41.79%
No 6.32%
Maybe 48.20%
I already own a Garmin Varia 3.69%

Garmin South Africa has stocked up on the Varia in anticipation…