Ready for car-free street

2016-02-23 06:00
A section of Merrydale Avenue has been selected as the venue for the first Open streets event. This busy Arterial way will be closed between Spine Road and Hazeldene Avenue for the motor-free event in April. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

A section of Merrydale Avenue has been selected as the venue for the first Open streets event. This busy Arterial way will be closed between Spine Road and Hazeldene Avenue for the motor-free event in April. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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Re-imagine the space without any motorised transport.

This is the aim of a local NGO as the global Open Streets concept hits the streets of Mitchell’s Plain in April.

According to its website, the NGO aims to challenge the paradigm of urban mobility by carrying out campaigns, temporary interventions, dialogues and walks that raise citizen awareness, spark public debate, and ultimately drive behaviour change, around the role of streets in the life of the city.

Local proportional representative councillor Achmat Williams first brought the concept to the subcouncil for consideration following an interaction.

“Our aim is to create shared spaces that bring people together, no matter who we are or how we move, for a more equitable, integrated, safer and vibrant Cape Town. We want streets to embody respect for all,” the site reads.

On Thursday last week, the formal engagement with residents and community leaders began with a walkabout of the 1.2km stretch earmarked for the event.

Rebecca Campbell, operations manager of Open Streets, said the location was chosen in consultation with several departments and entities.

“We have engaged with City of Cape Town services. When we look at a route, traffic services give input on what will work for the community. We also looked at AZ Berman Drive but AZ Berman is for cars, whereas Merrydale is for the community,” she says.

The section allocated for the event will run along Merrydale Avenue between Hazel­dene Avenue and Spine Road.

This will mean the busy street will be closed to traffic in this section for the duration of the event.

The stretch already features a wide pavement with a seldomly used cycle lane and pedestrian walkway.

The wide area is ideal for the concept, organisers say.

The group, made up of NGO representatives, residents and local ward councillors, were asked to answer three questions to help evaluate if the space was adequately suited to the event’s needs.

The concept will be moulded by the community, says organisers. This was the first of four community engagements.

Two public meetings will follow to allow residents to bring ideas and suggestions on what they would like to see happen at the event.

A small number of preselected and screened vendors will be allowed to trade there on the day.

The main objective will be to promote walking and cycling as alternatives to motorised transportation.

A second and final walkabout will be held ahead of the event.

Details of the two meetings to he held next month will be published in People’s Post soon.

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