We hosted our first Annual General Meeting on 26 September 2016 with many of our contributors, supporters and friends. It was a celebration of the organisation that has evolved since 2012 when Open Streets in Cape Town was no more than a dream.
Close to 50 people came together to hear about the achievements of the past couple of years as presented by our new Chairperson Rory Williams; to hear about the behind-the-scenes of Bogotá's Ciclovía, where the Open Streets concept originates, and where our Operations Manager Rebecca Campbell embarked on an intensive research trip in June; and to help us dream the future of a platform we hope will help connect individuals and communities across Cape Town.
Rory spoke about the different activities Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT) has developed in 2016 by building on our flagship programme of Open Streets Days; they include our campaigns on pedestrian safety (Streetiquette) and tactical urbanism (B4 Campaign); our work to promote low carbon transport with WWF, which recently resulted in the release of a policy brief and brought together transport experts earlier in the year. Rory also reflected on the process that has brought the organisation to its current position; our aim to create an environment of openness and our eagerness to engage others in the process.
Rebecca presented a detailed account of her experience in Bogotá and the number of practical lessons she has brought back so that we can improve both the operations of Open Streets Days, but also the way we can build the programme institutionally so that it can be integrated into the fabric of the city and not perceived as a simple event. One of her key messages was around the critical public support Ciclovía receives in Bogotá and the importance of finding that type of support in Cape Town for the programme, to have the necessary governmental support and engage the diverse number of communities across Cape Town.
Some of the questions raised by the audience included:
- How will we replicate the Bogotá model in a way that doesn't have a negative impact on citizens and traffic?
- How do we connect with students in programmes such as UCT's architecture and planning department?
- What did it take for Bogotá's Ciclovía to be adopted by local government and therefore incorporated into the City?
- How do we, as OSCT engage with the critical situation of pedestrian infrastructure and rights not being protected or upheld by local government?
- How do we translate the big picture of an Open Streets network in the long term into smaller interventions so that communities can open small sections of their streets on a more regular basis?
The discussion was rich and there were no simple answers for some of the questions; but it was clear that people in the room were eager to take part in finding those answers; some by joining one of our working groups, others by volunteering and others by exploring how they could find synergies with other initiatives. We hope that they and you, our readers, will contact us with more ideas!
To read more detailed notes of the presentations and the discussion afterwards, click the attached PDF document below.