Open Streets is a citizen-driven initiative working to design and promote streets which embed and generate respect for people, regardless of who they are, and how they move. It was founded in 2012 by a group of volunteers committed to a more equitable, integrated, safer and vibrant Cape Town.
On 25 May, 2013, OPEN STREETS CAPE TOWN will launch its programme for an Open Streets network in Cape Town to help connect different communities, encourage residents to use alternative and environmentally sustainable modes of transport, support local businesses and expose people to healthy and creative ways of using streets as public space.
Inspired by Bogota’s Ciclovia and projects in other cities like San Francisco and Jakarta, the aim of Open Streets is to enable all citizens to move and use streets freely and safely. The concept has been implemented in approximately one hundred cities around the world and it entails the creation of a temporary network of car-free areas and routes. Lower Main Road -between Main Road and Albert Road- is the first leg of an envisaged network throughout Cape Town.
As one of its strongest supporters, Mayoral Committee member for Transport, Road and Stormwater Councillor Brett Herron says “Open Streets can assist in the creation of a low carbon future through the promotion of more sustainable forms of transport. Also, taking cars out of Lower Main for a number of hours will allow people to foster relationships with their neighbours, which means increased community cohesion and improved safety.”
The event is free and activities planned for the day include a skateboarding park, bicycle activation points, Zumba and yoga lessons, theatre, music busking and arts installations. Moreover, residents have organised a family ‘corner’ with braai and games for kids; street football, giant chess, puppets, folk circle dancing, chalk-drawing and more.
According to Justin Ashley, chairman of the Observatory Improvement District “residents want to have a more pedestrian-friendly space on Lower Main Road and Open Streets is an opportunity for all to experience what that would be like. Besides, it will be a good opportunity for local businesses and for residents of Obs and Salt River to interact”
Open Streets is linking to other activities taking place on May 25; namely Africa Day, the Moonlight Mass monthly bicycle ride and “100 in 1 day”, which is a global movement to encourage people to utilize public space in creative ways.
The City of Cape Town supports the roll out of this programme as part of its policy for alternative transport as well as the agenda for the World Design Capital in 2014.