Street opens to pedestrians

2017-09-05 06:02
A 5km section of Main Road between Obser­vatory and the Cape Town CBD will be car-free on Sunday 1 October.

A 5km section of Main Road between Obser­vatory and the Cape Town CBD will be car-free on Sunday 1 October.

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A section of Main Road will welcome feet and bicycle spokes one Sunday soon – just not car tyres.

Motorists are expected to find alternative routes when the M4 (Main Road) between Observatory and the Cape Town CBD is closed on Sunday 1 October.

A 5km section of the road will be closed off for cars from 10:00 to 15:00.

According to Marcela Guerrero Casas, managing director and co-founder of Open Streets Cape Town, the road will be dedicated to pedestrians, skaters and cyclists.

She says the idea was inspired by the Bogota’s Ciclovia, a recreational programme that creates 120km of car-free streets in the Colombian capital every Sunday and public holiday.

“More than 400 cities around the world have followed suit with their own versions of streets that provide space for recreation and social interaction. The initiative in Cape Town is the first formal Open Streets programme in Africa, and offers a practical way to help bridge the city’s social and spatial divides.”

Guerrero Casas advises motorists to start making their travelling plans now to avoid ­inconvenience.

She also encourages anyone who can, to support the initiative by walking or cycling. She says it is an opportunity for members of the public to enjoy their street freely and safely.

Guerrero Casas says consultative meetings have been held to engage stakeholders to make sure they are not negatively affected or left out.

She says: “We held the first public question-and-answers session to discuss plans and invite local residents, business owners and others to share their questions, concerns and ideas about Open Streets Main Road. This followed an intensive three-week consultation period during which our team walked along Main Road, knocking on doors and talking to residents and businesses in the area. The group agreed that they would prefer having Open Streets from 10:00 to 15:00 and discussed a couple of ideas for the day, which included teaching adults how to cycle, getting as many people on bicycles as possible to ensure the energy is not concentrated at the hubs and exploring activities with residents along the route.

“The last part of the meeting was opened up to a general discussion where questions were raised about the time, the length of the closure, concerns around crime and the importance of ensuring that local residents genuinely benefit from the positive impact of Open Streets in the area.”

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, says the City of Cape Town supports Open Streets as a platform to demonstrate the potential of streets by making some of them temporarily car-free.

He says it gives Capetonians an opportunity to experience streets as safe and welcoming public spaces where they can connect, socialise and participate in activities.

“Open Streets days have been held in King Langalibalele Drive in Langa, Voortrekker Road in Bellville, Bree and Longmarket streets in the CBD and Eisleben Road in Mitchell’s Plain. We believe Open Streets can help us rethink how we move around in Cape Town and how we can change our transport habits,” he says.

He adds that the City’s traffic officers will oversee the safe implementation of the transport management plan for the event.

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