The concept has been discussed by the Transport Department in the past and there have been attempts to launch them in different parts of the city under different names. In 2003 and 2004 car-free days were organized along Klipfontein road and last year, discussions to roll them out as part of transport month were also held.
In the past few months, civil society has rescued the conversation and with the efforts already in place by the Transport Department, 2012 may see the arrival of Open Streets. A launching event could lay out the ground for a long term initiative that seeks to transform the city by creating physical links amongst different neighborhoods, encouraging individual behavior change and ultimate increasing social cohesion.
The planning process is in itself a "social experiment" of sorts. Though a fair amount of project management is needed, its success relies on the type of commitment that only social capital can guarantee. There is no central command and there are no real parameters which determine how everyone can partake. The streets simply become a canvass for all capetonians to dream and populate together.
We might not see the 14,000 yogis who joined the "Mind over Madness" session in New York's Times Square this year; but street yoga, street zumba and buskers, among others, will take stage on streets around the city as the movement unfolds.
The plans for Open Streets include setting up a number of activation points; namely for sports; kids, adrenaline-seekers and for a market place while other expressions, particularly those of artistic nature to be sprinkled along the route.
Details are yet to be confirmed and announced by the Transport Department but the following days will be dedicated to continue the mobilisation plan to get all capetonians to start dreaming and planning to utilize Open Streets in creative and active ways. Let the fun begin!