Three years ago we received a grant from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. The ultimate aim of this grant was to contribute to the creation of a new mindset about movement on city streets. We used it to promote low-carbon and inclusive mobility by scaling up Open Streets Days and developing a number of urban experimental campaigns which started a fruitful and insightful dialogue with our fellow Cape Town residents. Here’s a summary of what unfolded thanks to this wonderful partnership:
We worked with the WWF-SA team to organise a “race” that entailed teams travelling to Open Streets Langa using low-carbon transport. It was the first time the concept was tested in Cape Town and it gathered a fascinating group of people who travelled from Sea Point to Langa in teams. You can watch a video here. This fun and enriching exercise helped contribute towards the creation of a Low Carbon Mobility Challenge toolkit put together by WWF.
We coordinated groups of cyclists riding together to a particular destination. This enabled us to reach out to partners in specific areas of Cape Town to test the appetite for commuter cycling. Following a 10-month #Bike2Work campaign, we handed over the reins to independent bike bus champions at the end of last year.
We invited the general public to document their travel patterns for a seven-day period. This was to create awareness about how people move around the city and how to change behaviour.
We partnered with a consultancy with expertise in behaviour economics to recruit Capetonians to share their transport experiences. We’re using the resulting data to develop behaviour-change campaigns going forward.
We designed this campaign to get people to cycle to their train station. This enabled us to identify some of the barriers to bicycling in Cape Town. You can watch a clip about this campaign here.
We laid the foundation to build a community of practice for professionals in the built environment. They continue to engage in public dialogues focused on transportation and road safety. Remember you can join this group and help us shape its future.
We documented our practices and produced new knowledge thanks to the grant. Some of these documents – our toolkits, for example – had a very practical application. Some reflected on our work, while others prompted dialogue around issues of sustainable transport. Throughout this period, we shared knowledge with like-minded organisations in other African cities. This has resulted in Open Streets Days taking place in Johannesburg and Addis Ababa. All toolkits can be downloaded on our website.
Bicycle awareness events
We organised two key bicycle awareness events in partnership with Pedal Power Association, Bicycling Empowerment Network, TSiBA Education and Bicycle South. Women on Bikes was a multi-activity day aimed at highlighting the challenges faced by women in cycling. World Bicycle Day focused on how to make utility cycling an everyday activity in Khayelitsha.
The grant also enabled us to apply to and become a winner of the Transformative Urban Mobility Challenge (TUMI). This has given us international exposure and financial sustainability in the short term. But, as we look back on the grant period, it’s perhaps the personal transformations we’ve seen that show the greater impact of Open Streets. After all, the aim of the concept is ultimately to empower people so that they can be part and parcel of the change towards sustainable transport required in our city.
It’s always been our goal to institutionalise Open Streets Days in Cape Town. This means a programme of regular car-free experiences that Capetonians can enjoy and use as a platform to experiment in how they get around. Achieving this goal is a long-term process that requires the ongoing support and contribution of a cross section of Cape Town’s society. But we know it’s worth it, and we’re in it for the long haul.