Open Streets exists in the context of a country that strives to break free from the social, economic and spatial legacies of apartheid. South Africa is struggling to heal because reconciliation has not translated into integration. This challenge is visible in Cape Town, where different communities still feel like different worlds.
The Constitution makes a call to “build a united and democratic” country amid diversity. We believe we have a part to play in this. Open Streets offers:
- A method for bringing people together and integrating communities, which has proven to work over the long term in Latin America.
- A practical means of addressing a difficult idealistic goal of social transformation.
- A locally tested and popular reality in Cape Town since 2013.
Our Open Streets Manifesto, which guides all our work, talks about creating "shared places that embody respect for all and help bridge the social and spatial divides of our city." and goes on to outline how "we believe that streets should:
- enable safer and more cohesive communities
- provide platforms for creative expression of local cultures and values
- be places for recreation and social interaction
- contribute to job creation and local economic activity
- provide choice in how we move around the city"
Surveys carried out at Open Streets Days highlight the value people derive from being in a welcoming space that creates “common ground” and brings people together, if only for a few hours. We want this to last longer than that. In fact, we want to grow Open Streets into a sustainable programme.
Institutionalisation of the concept is paramount to maximising its power, which relies on existing City assets and mobilises communities to be active and engaged in the building and ownership of the city. Building on the 2016-17 summer series and the various tests carried out since 2012 in partnership with the City of Cape Town, we are working on a 20-year vision that positions Open Streets as a tool to connect Cape Town’s residents and to change how people think about and experience mobility in the city.
Ultimately, we think we can achieve a network of temporary car-free routes, similar to Bogotá’s Ciclovía model, in Cape Town. Just imagine being able to enjoy streets that prioritise people instead of cars on a regular basis!
This dream is only possible if everyone gets involved along the way. All of us can help create shared spaces that bring people together across the social and spatial divides of our city. Stay tuned for news on how you can join in and sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already.
If you came along to Open Streets Mitchells Plain on Sunday 2 April, please would you spend a few minutes filling in an online feedback survey, to help us grow the programme: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BB5HW2J
This content was made possible through the support of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust.