Hout Bay residents are being driven up the proverbial wall by the night racing on public roads in the area.
Tyres screeching, engines roaring and the noise made by cars travelling at “extremely high speeds”, have prompted locals to call on the City of Cape Town to install speed humps on the affected roads.
But Hout Bay ward councillor Rob Quintas, who is also the City’s mayoral committee member for urban mobility, says it’s unlikely this request will get the green light.
Hout Bay resident Elizabeth Conleigh said it was difficult to point out a specific problem area, but said the noise was “horrific”.
“Sometimes it sounds like we are living close to a racetrack. Anywhere where there is a space, they race or start spinning these vehicles until those tyres burst,” she said.
On Victoria Road, she heard two cars travelling at excessive speeds, even ignoring the speed camera.
“Two quick lights went off as they passed. I stopped at the robot and heard these vehicles coming on. I am sure they were fined heavily, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they just beat somebody on the street,” Ms Conleigh, describing the first time she witnessed illegal racing.
“It’s dangerous and stupid. That can lead to somebody’s life being lost.”
Earlier this year, more than 200 motorists were caught speeding on Hout Bay’s Victoria Drive during a four-hour period.
Traffic officers recorded 86 speeding offences on the stretch of Victoria Drive between Mount Rhodes Drive and Llandudno Road, with the highest speed in the 60km/h zone clocking in at 139km/h, and 144 cases between Victoria Road and Mount Rhodes Drive, where 105km/h was the highest speed, (“Speeding crackdown in Hout Bay”, Sentinel News, January 21, 2022).
Another resident in Hout Bay said the speedsters “entertaining“ people by showing off with their vehicles could have a fatal ending.
Richard Caledon said Harbour Road was also popular among those with a need for speed, and he worries that with the number of tourists and visitors to the area, there could be incidents with devastating consequences.
“I was present at one of these informal gatherings, where a car just starts burning out their tyres and out of nowhere, a string of cars pull up and suddenly, we have competition and a race. I am sure these drivers are experienced and know how to handle their cars, but anything can happen,” he said.
He explained that a driver in a modified Mazda had been doing a burnout, when the back tyres popped and the driver had lost control. Luckily it had crashed into a nearby pavement where there were no spectators.
“It happened so quickly and people don’t have enough time to react to situations like these. Most of the time, the children are standing in front watching this,” Mr Caledon said.
Mr Quintas, confirmed that the City regularly received complaints about speeding, usually on Sunday or Monday mornings.
A Hout Bay racer, who only wanted to be identified as Jody, disagreed with those who complained about the street racing, arguing that these informal gatherings help to keep children off the street.
He also said, to his knowledge, “no crime or violence” happened during these instances.
“I can’t understand. We see these shows keeping kids away from trouble and it brings so many people together. People talk about the dangers, but it’s always the most experienced drivers pulling those stunts,” Jody said.
He called on the City to create spaces for these shows to happen legally and thereby formalise these activities.
“We have so many car enthusiasts around here, all working on their cars and wanting to show them off. The City can make a parking space or something available to us and I am sure we will use for good,” he added.
Hout Bay Community Police Forum chairperson, Anthony Chemaly, said they have been informed about the concerns around racing in Hout Bay. “It has been raised with Metro police and Traffic Services, and there have been a couple of operations with traffic coming in. Always going to be a difficult thing to manage as we don’t have 24/7 traffic police in the area,“ he said.
Mr Chemaly supported the call for the construction of speed humps, saying: “I’m not sure what the protocol is for getting speed humps in, but I hope the City of Cape Town will take the request under consideration.”
Mr Quintas, added that “speedsters” had become a “real problem” in all communities.
“High speed, reckless, irresponsible and negligent driving risks lives,“ Mr Quintas said.
He said enforcement was key to curbing speedsters and Hout Bay had seen regular interventions in terms of traffic operations along Victoria and Harbour Road to discourage reckless driving.
He confirmed that Traffic Services always tried to curb speeding, as well as checking for modified engines and expired licenses.
Mr Quintas, however, ruled out the possibility of having speed humps installed, as they were only allowed on certain grades of roads, and could not be placed in high traffic areas which are regularly used by buses and delivery trucks.
“(Speed humps) are normally allowed only where there are schools, crèches, hospitals etc,” he explained.
The City has now launched talks with officials around speed-camera installations at certain locations in Hout Bay.
To report speeding or racing on public roads, call 086 076 5423.