Sidewalks tip hats to histor y

2015-10-20 06:00
A project to extend kerbs at intersections in the city centre for pedestrians will ensure heritage items, like granite curbstones, are retained.

nicole mccain

A project to extend kerbs at intersections in the city centre for pedestrians will ensure heritage items, like granite curbstones, are retained. PHOTO: nicole mccain

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A project to improve pedestrian safety in the city centre is taking note of history.

This as the council is building bump-outs at busy intersections to improve pedestrian safety and access for road users with special needs.

A bump-out is an extension or widening of the existing sidewalk, providing pedestrians with improved sight of oncoming traffic, and giving motorists a better view of pedestrians waiting to cross the road, explains Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport.

The dipped kerbs will be less steep once an upgrade is completed, making it easier for wheelchair users to get on and off the sidewalk.

Work includes finishing the new surface with asphalt, brick paving or concrete to match existing surfaces.

But despite relocating the kerb line and creating dipped kerbs, items of historical value are being left undisturbed, Herron says. This includes cast-iron bollards and granite curbstones, such as those found on Bree Street where construction is currently underway.

“As far as we know the kerbs were hewn by hand from Table Mountain granite quarries that have been closed since the early part of the 20th century,” Herron says. “Apart from the historical aspect, they represent a craft that has disappeared over time and they also have great aesthetic appeal.”

Work on Prestwich Street at Loop and Long streets is nearly completed, while work is currently taking place along Bree and Kloof streets.

“The work is carried out on three intersections at a time, with each intersection taking between 15 and 25 working days to be completed. The work is scheduled for between 07:30 and 16:30 on week days,” Herron says.

About 70 intersections in the CBD are to be upgraded for R36m by mid-June 2017.

The project was inspired by the latest household survey done in 2012 which found that up to a third of low-income households walk to work, school and social amenities.

“The City of Cape Town therefore has specific projects focusing on making it easier and safer for our residents to walk to their destinations. Universal access is an important component of all of these projects,” Herron says.

Due to the bump-outs, the crossing distance at intersections is also reduced, meaning pedestrians will spend less time crossing the road.

The bump-outs make it impossible for motorists to park across pedestrian crossing lines – a regular nuisance in the city centre. They also make it impossible for motorists to drive through on-street parking to get to the front of the intersection, Herron says

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