Open Streets

On 27 January 2019, Bree Street will become Open Streets for half a day. This is the third Open Streets Day in the 2018-19 series and, if previous Open Streets on Bree are anything to go by, it’ll be a day full of colour, activity and self-propelled mobility.

Building on the success of previous years and thanks to the financial support of the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI), Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT) is partnering with the City of Cape Town and the Central City Improvement District (CCID) to demonstrate to all residents across the city how a car-free, people-first CBD could look.

“Open Streets offers a great opportunity for Cape Town’s residents to be active participants in experiencing the unifying potential of their community. At a recent open streets event I was happy to see the community come out, engage one another and experience an inclusive, safe and welcoming space. I look forward to seeing other communities enjoy this fun and thought provoking experience.” said Executive Mayor Dan Plato.

By closing down a portion of the iconic Bree Street to traffic, it’ll be transformed into an inclusive and neutral space for all to enjoy. Although some might consider it just a party or a festival, we hope they will also become aware of joining the ‘movement for better movement’. This includes taking the opportunity to leave their cars at home and test a different mode of transport for getting to Open Streets.

The aim of Open Streets is to radically increase the use and ownership of streets as public space and, with that in mind, this summer the Open Streets Days series has returned to the five areas where the programme has taken root: Woodstock, Bellville, City Centre, Langa and Mitchells Plain.

Open Streets Cape Town co-founder and managing director Marcela says: “The invitation to residents is to use the Open Streets platform to reimagine these different parts of the city. Closed to motorised vehicles and open to people, roads become spaces for walkers, cyclists, skaters and wheelchair users to move safely, and for showcasing of local music, dance and community-based initiatives. These days bring people together and inspire action. We believe this kind of experiential learning could lead to real behaviour change and increased advocacy for non-motorised transport.”

As our cities adapt to deal with climate change and accommodate increasing populations in an inclusive and sustainable way, we need to transform our mobility systems. Cycling, skating and walking have the benefits of improved health, economic savings, reduced carbon emissions and strengthening of social fabric. Instead of waiting for our public transport systems to be fixed to be able to ditch our private vehicles and escape traffic congestion, we can start somewhere with small changes to our commuting habits and join the global movement of citizens embracing non-motorised transport.

Tasso Evangelinos, CEO of the CCID, believes Open Streets is a gateway to a more liveable city: “For Cape Town to become a safe and inclusive city, we must catch up with the global trend that calls for fewer motorised vehicles and more infrastructure that is safe and welcoming to pedestrians. It has been proven in other places and in our experience in the CBD for years that businesses benefit from this type of activation.”

Business owner, Heather Moore, says “the concept of Open Streets works really well on Bree Street because of its natural energy; mix of businesses and activities and the beautiful surroundings. I bet that you haven’t noticed how many huge trees there are on this street because they can’t be appreciated from a motor vehicle. It is only when you explore on foot that you can fully take in all that Bree Street has to offer.”

OSCT counts on citizen volunteers to help the non-profit organisation to host each Open Streets Day, along with a number of partner organisations and groups who co-create the activities that bring the street to life.

Longstanding volunteer, Siya Pikashe, says: “I have been part of this movement for years, the first time was in Langa and I have joined the programme as it goes to other parts of Cape Town. I believe there is great power in connecting with other people from different backgrounds and communities. I want to see the Open Streets movement grow!”

If you agree with Siya, join us at Open Streets City Centre!