Four years and several car-free experiments later, we can comfortably say Open Streets is catching on in Cape Town. And the summer 2016-17 series has lent credence to the notion that we have proven a concept that works in very different parts of the city.
If you haven’t experienced it, Open Streets Mitchells Plain, which will transform Eisleben Road on 2 April, is your last chance to do so this season. Residents of Mitchells Plain are eager to open Eisleben Road. This is clear by the large number of requests and proposals we are receiving. From people wanting to organise activities or perform to those wanting to sell delicious food, the desire to use our streets differently is unquestionable.
We have organised the more than 40 activities into eight “hubs”. The two Street Life hubs will showcase live graffiti and will each have an open mic. The Active hub is where you can get involved in dancing and street sports. The Family hub will include fun activities for kids such as face painting and games. The Arts hub will have live performances and a drumming workshop. The Civic hub will include a soapbox, where Inkulufreeheid will invite people to express their thoughts and wishes for our city. And the Quiet hub is where you will be able to relax with a book or play some chess.
You will find a full list of activities on the Facebook events page. While you’re there, please indicate whether you will be attending, and invite your friends!
Following Mitchells Plain, the next step will be to work to formalise a programme of car-free days in Cape Town.
We are not alone. Around the world, congested cities are testing car-free days for different reasons. Beginning in May last year, Paris banned car traffic along the Champs Elysées and surrounding roads on the first Sunday of each month. This added to the 13 areas already announced as part of the “Paris Breathes” campaign to target harmful emissions. In September, the elected assembly of Paris voted to permanently ban cars from a 3.3km stretch of the Right Bank of the river Seine. In the same month, to celebrate World Car-Free Day, even the motor city, Detroit, closed its eight-lane Michigan Avenue – a vision of a post-car world if ever there was one! Car-free days have also recently taken place in Madrid, Brussels and Kigali. In fact, the Rwandan capital has introduced monthly car-free days to promote a healthy, active lifestyle.
An Open Streets Day is an opportunity for all Capetonians to explore a street as a space that connects people. It suspends reality for a few hours and shows a glimpse of what our future could be. We hope you will join us on the journey to get there.
Need to know for Open Streets Mitchells Plain
- Where: Eisleben Road between Wespoort Drive and Spine Road
- When: 2 April, 12h00 to 17h00
- It’s FREE!
- Ditch your car at home and use public transport or your own steam (bike, skate, walk) to travel to Open Streets