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Joburg South streets are for people, not cars

05 July 2012, 10:03

Joburg South resident Joe Bekker’s dream started relatively small.

He wanted to cycle the 3.5km from his home in Townsview in Joburg South, to his place of work in SP Pavillion on his tricycle every morning.

That dream has now expanded to much more than just cycling to work and back.

Joe and the newly registered non-profit People and Pedals are already planning Joburg South’s first “Ciclovia” or Open Street event for Sunday September 23.

8-80 Cities, a Canadian non-profit organisation dedicated to transforming cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks, streets and other public places, coined the term “Ciclovia” which means roads are closed for cars on Sundays and public holidays.

It was after Joe attended a public lecture presented by Gil Peñalosa from 8-80 Cities that the spark was ignited.  Peñalosa spoke about transforming the streets of Johannesburg into a vibrant and healthy city with a lot of emphasis on cycling.

Joe started his research, created a Cause on Mobilitate called Safe cycling in Joburg South and registered the non-profit People and Pedals.

At the lecture Peñalosa said cycling could be more than sport and recreation; it could also be a step in the right direction towards creating a walk free environment in cities – a place where people could walk freely

This is also in line with the City’s vision of Joburg being a vibrant city with open streets.

Peñalosa’s lecture inspired Joe so much that he decided to look at an expanded project, beyond just the aspiration to cycle the 3.5km to work every day and he presented this to the City’s MMC for Transport, Rehana Moosajee.

The first phase of this expanded project, an Open Street event on September 23, is already in planning.

MMC Moosajee was impressed with the concept and said People and Pedals had the Transport department’s full support.

Apart from the Open Street event People and Pedals are also looking at a large area in Joburg South that belongs to the City.

“We hope that it can be converted into a park thus creating more public spaces,” said Joe.

Their third project is to have Verona Street and Rifle Range Road (about 10 km) converted into  a "vibrant, liveable road" by making adequate pedestrian pavements and cycling paths.

 “It is so amazing to see what has already been achieved all over the world by just getting the priorities right! Cities are primarily for people, not cars. And people WILL walk and cycle if the surroundings are safe and pleasant. People want and need to be with people.”

If you are also passionate about this please support Joe’s cause HERE.

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