Open Streets City Centre
Photo by Lisa Burnell

Mobility was one of the hottest topics of conversation internationally last year, a trend that is likely to grow in 2019. In Cape Town, the NPO Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT) – with the support of the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) and in partnership with City of Cape Town – is starting the year with an invitation to all residents to experience mobility in a car-free environment, thus challenging the notion that the motor vehicle must be the centrepiece of our urban existence.

On Sunday 27 January, between 09h00 and 14h00, ‘Open Streets City Centre’ will transform Bree Street into a shared public space for all.

In the spirit of co-creating this Sunday morning street life, there are already more than 20 activities registered, to be hosted voluntarily by groups and organisations including Community Chest, College of Magic, Marimba Jam, Cape Town Aikido, Balisa Nathi Storytelling Collective and Twenty Skeight.

“This is an opportunity to connect with others who dream of a more sustainable and cohesive Cape Town. We invite everyone to join in with a game, something to teach, showcase or share. This is our chance to bring out the best in all of us in Cape Town”, says Rebecca Campbell, Programmes Director at OSCT.

In line with the invitation to foster better movement and mobility in Cape Town, there will be bike buses (groups of cyclists riding together along a set route) for people who want to cycle to Open Streets City Centre. Three are already scheduled to depart the Southern Suburbs, Gugulethu and Sea Point, and people are also encouraged to organise their own group ride with friends or family. The aim is to get participants to have a positive experience of what it’s like to commute by bicycle so that hopefully in the course of the year they will join initiatives such as OSCT’s #Bike2Work.

“There is untapped potential in fostering commuter cycling in our city,” says Pedal Power Association CEO Robert Vogel. “In 2018 we saw increased interest among our members to cycle to work. This year, we are working with our partners – including OSCT – to find ways of encouraging individuals and also of private companies in encouraging their employees to adopt cycling as a mode of transport by making it convenient and attractive through incentives.”.

Having worked in various parts of Cape Town, OSCT is also inviting their partners in Langa, Mitchells Plain, Bellville and Woodstock to bring some of the flair of activities from these diverse neighbourhoods to the day.

One of these is Guga S’thebe Cultural Centre in Langa. Its manager,  Marco Morgan, says:“The Open Streets ‘movement’ is about moving out of our comfort zones. In a segregated city like Cape Town it is crucial that we find ways to experience public space together. In a way, that helps us imagine a different future.”

Open Streets City Centre will take place from 09h00 till 14h00, with the road closures in place from 08h00 till 15h00. For more information and to register an activity, contact info@openstreets.co.za