Who said you need to spend money on a gym contract to get fit? There are plenty of ways to take free advantage of your surroundings instead. You could jog on the beach, play a game in the park, cycle on the Sea Point Promenade – or do all three at Open Streets City Centre.
By clearing streets of motorised vehicles for a few hours, Open Streets Days create a platform for mobility. As a bonus, they make it easy to connect with people. In Latin America, the idea has laid the groundwork for public health programmes in many cities, and Open Streets Days – or Ciclovías – encourage physical activity.
The next Open Streets Day in Cape Town will be on 15 January 2017. Called Open Streets City Centre, it will take place in and around Bree Street. The organiser, the NPO Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT), encourages everyone to join in the fun.
Says Marcela Guerrero Casas, MD of OSCT: “We are opening Bree Street not just to encourage a different way of moving on the street but also to engage with healthy fun and physical activity that brings us closer to each other. And we want attendees and activity providers to think out the box! Bring a beach ball or a frisbee. Come in your activewear so you can take part in a zumba class. Or start your own game of street football.”
The organisation is particularly excited to have started a partnership with WoW! (WesternCape on Wellness) which will be offering a Wellness Hub where everyone can participate in a range of free and fun physical activities and learn practical tips about health.
Says Frederick Marais, Director of the WoW! healthy lifestyles initiative of the Western Cape Government: “Open Streets Cape Town has set the tone for the use of public space in a different way. There are loads of ways to have fun in our beautiful natural environment with positive health and social benefits. At Open Streets Days, we use the opportunity actively to showcase the WoW! initiative through various fun and interactive activities and to invite people to think about and act for their health in a setting that is natural.”
OSCT took inspiration from the concept of Ciclovía, which in Spanish means “cycle path”. Indeed, in several Latin American cities, bicycles take over when streets close to vehicular traffic for Ciclovía. This happens on a regular basis.
In 2017, OSCT wants to shed light on the role the bicycle can play on Cape Town’s streets. It's not rare to hear people say they would cycle to work, to the shops or just for fun if streets were safer to do so. What if for a number of hours the danger elements disappeared and the road were safe for all ages to cycle? On 15 January, Capetonians will have the opportunity to experience just that on Bree Street.
OSCT is proud to announce a Bike Hub in partnership with the Pedal Power Association (PPA), the Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN), Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy and Up Cycles. At Open Streets City Centre, this initiative will include a safe cycling school, free bike rides for children, bicycle parking, bike rentals, and a bike bus to discover the city centre by bicycle.
Says PPA CEO Robert Vogel: “We have committed to growing cycling in Cape Town. Safety is one of the key elements and it starts with us all. Ensuring a new generation of cyclists is introduced to safe cycling from the outset is crucial to the development of cycling in the city. At Open Streets City Centre, we have an opportunity to showcase and encourage the important principles of sharing the road.”
Says BEN CEO Tim Mosdell: “We want to see more people on more bikes in all communities around Cape Town, and have taken part in several other Open Streets Days by providing bike mechanics and bicycles. We are thrilled to be building the programme of safe cycling for children and look forward to seeing many Capetonians on two wheels in the city centre.”
To complement the Bike Hub, Bicycle Cape Town will be organising a bike bus from the southern suburbs to the city centre. This means people of all ages will be able to start the bicycle experience from the moment they leave their homes.
All in all, the idea is to get as many people as possible on bicycles to experience the beauty and the power of pedalling. The City of Cape Town is set to release a cycling strategy next year that will help create an enabling environment for cycling to grow in our city. One of the key components of any strategy will be the implementation on the ground, and getting people on bicycles is the first step.
Join the fun at Open Streets City Centre on 15 January 2017!
Location: Bree Street
Date and time: 15 January from 10h00 till 15h00
Note to editors: the full calendar for the 2016-17 Open Streets Days series is as follows.
30 October: Langa
20 November: Bellville
15 January 2017: City Centre
2 April 2017: Mitchells Plain
For interviews and all other media inquiries, contact Marcela Guerrero Casas at 072 2146 736 or at email@example.com.
To enquire about activities at Open Streets, contact Rebecca Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To stay updated about Open Streets Cape Town, like the Facebook page, or follow @OpenStreetsCapeTown on Instagram or @OpenStreetsCT on Twitter .