Observatory and Salt River host thousands at the first of many future Open Streets in Cape Town
Cape Town (May 26, 2013)
On 25 May 2013, Cape Town experienced their first kilometre of Open Streets, a network that is envisioned to grow across the city.
Yesterday between 13:00 to 17:00, Lower Main Road from Main Road in Observatory to Malta Road in Salt River was closed off to cars and opened to people to experience their street differently. The opening ceremony was completed by a group of children who signed their names on the street in chalk, endorsing the Open Streets Manifesto. This invites everyone to treat all who use our streets with respect; to actively create inclusive public streets and to find ways to bridge the social divides of our city.
Open Streets Cape Town, which is made up of a small group of volunteers, organized the day in close collaboration with the community, the Observatory Improvement District, the Cape Town Partnership and the City of Cape Town.
For years, local residents have been working to make Lower Main Road a more pedestrian-friendly zone and the idea of Open Streets was an opportunity to see what the street could be like if it wasn't so heavily car-dominated. As Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, CEO of the Cape Town Partnership highlighted, the community is an expert in place making and it is through genuine collaboration and partnerships that public spaces are activated. Furthermore, she stressed: Streets can be canvases for family oriented entertainment. It's time to go back to the old days where playing in the street was where most beautiful childhood memories were built.
Although the concept is originally inspired by Bogota's Ciclovia and Open Street events around the world, Open Streets took on a genuinely Cape Town flavour yesterday. It is estimated that 5,000 visitors came throughout the day. Attendance not only surpassed expectations, but was a true reflection of Cape Town's rich diversity. From babies in prams to grannies; and all ages, races and shapes in between; it was a family day not only for residents of the area but also for visitors from all over the city.
Activities ranged from street football, bike polo, yoga, zumba, ultimate Frisbee, and chess to performers in stilts, marching bands and a giant dinosaur made of steel parading along the street. There was something for everyone. In fact, for a moment the street became a place for highly marginalized communities to highlight their plight not only to the City, but to other citizens.
The feedback since the event has been overwhelming with many requests for Open Streets to grow, and be repeated. The vision is a full network of open streets by 2014 to build on World Design Capital, and now the formula has been proven to work; however it is clear Open Streets Cape Town requires support from a range of stakeholders from local businesses, civil society and all spheres of Government in order to make a city-wide programme sustainable and scalable.
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.
To find out more about Open Streets Cape Town http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stzcfnosz3k